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Title: The Antichrist

Author: F. W. Nietzsche

Translator: H. L. Mencken

Release Date: September 18, 2006 [EBook #19322]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


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A complete list to date of this series of popular reprints, bound
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convenience in ordering.

                             THE ANTICHRIST


                            F. W. NIETZSCHE

                      _Translated from the German
                        with an introduction by_
                             H. L. MENCKEN

                               _New York_
                             ALFRED A. KNOPF

               COPYRIGHT, 1918, BY ALFRED A. KNOPF, INC.

            _Pocket Book Edition, Published September, 1923
                    Second Printing, November, 1924_

      _Set up, electrotyped, and printed by the Vail-Ballou Press,
                           Binghamton, N. Y._

     _Paper manufactured by W. C. Hamilton & Sons, Miquon, Pa., and
            furnished by W. F. Etherington & Co., New York._



    INTRODUCTION BY H. L. MENCKEN              7
    AUTHOR'S PREFACE                          37
    THE ANTICHRIST                            41


Save for his raucous, rhapsodical autobiography, "Ecce Homo," "The
Antichrist" is the last thing that Nietzsche ever wrote, and so it may
be accepted as a statement of some of his most salient ideas in their
final form. Notes for it had been accumulating for years and it was to
have constituted the first volume of his long-projected _magnum opus_,
"The Will to Power." His full plan for this work, as originally drawn
up, was as follows:

  Vol.   I.  The Antichrist: an Attempt at a Criticism of Christianity.

  Vol.  II.  The Free Spirit: a Criticism of Philosophy as a Nihilistic

  Vol. III.  The Immoralist: a Criticism of Morality, the Most Fatal
             Form of Ignorance.

  Vol.  IV.  Dionysus: the Philosophy of Eternal Recurrence.

The first sketches for "The Will to Power" were made in 1884, soon after
the publication of the first three parts of "Thus Spake Zarathustra,"
and thereafter, for four years, Nietzsche piled up notes. They were
written at all the places he visited on his endless travels in search of
health--at Nice, at Venice, at Sils-Maria in the Engadine (for long his
favourite resort), at Cannobio, at Zuerich, at Genoa, at Chur, at
Leipzig. Several times his work was interrupted by other books, first by
"Beyond Good and Evil," then by "The Genealogy of Morals" (written in
twenty days), then by his Wagner pamphlets. Almost as often he changed
his plan. Once he decided to expand "The Will to Power" to ten volumes,
with "An Attempt at a New Interpretation of the World" as a general
sub-title. Again he adopted the sub-title of "An Interpretation of All
That Happens." Finally, he hit upon "An Attempt at a Transvaluation of
All Values," and went back to four volumes, though with a number of
changes in their arrangement. In September, 1888, he began actual work
upon the first volume, and before the end of the month it was completed.
The Summer had been one of almost hysterical creative activity. Since
the middle of June he had written two other small books, "The Case of
Wagner" and "The Twilight of the Idols," and before the end of the year
he was destined to write "Ecce Homo." Some time during December his
health began to fail rapidly, and soon after the New Year he was
helpless. Thereafter he wrote no more.

The Wagner diatribe and "The Twilight of the Idols" were published
immediately, but "The Antichrist" did not get into type until 1895. I
suspect that the delay was due to the influence of the philosopher's
sister, Elisabeth Foerster-Nietzsche, an intelligent and ardent but by no
means uniformly judicious propagandist of his ideas. During his dark
days of neglect and misunderstanding, when even family and friends kept
aloof, Frau Foerster-Nietzsche went with him farther than any other, but
there were bounds beyond which she, also, hesitated to go, and those
bounds were marked by crosses. One notes, in her biography of him--a
useful but not always accurate work--an evident desire to purge him of
the accusation of mocking at sacred things. He had, she says, great
admiration for "the elevating effect of Christianity ... upon the weak
and ailing," and "a real liking for sincere, pious Christians," and "a
tender love for the Founder of Christianity." All his wrath, she
continues, was reserved for "St. Paul and his like," who perverted the
Beatitudes, which Christ intended for the lowly only, into a universal
religion which made war upon aristocratic values. Here, obviously, one
is addressed by an interpreter who cannot forget that she is the
daughter of a Lutheran pastor and the grand-daughter of two others; a
touch of conscience gets into her reading of "The Antichrist." She even
hints that the text may have been garbled, after the author's collapse,
by some more sinister heretic. There is not the slightest reason to
believe that any such garbling ever took place, nor is there any
evidence that their common heritage of piety rested upon the brother as
heavily as it rested upon the sister. On the contrary, it must be
manifest that Nietzsche, in this book, intended to attack Christianity
headlong and with all arms, that for all his rapid writing he put the
utmost care into it, and that he wanted it to be printed exactly as it
stands. The ideas in it were anything but new to him when he set them
down. He had been developing them since the days of his beginning. You
will find some of them, clearly recognizable, in the first book he ever
wrote, "The Birth of Tragedy." You will find the most important of all
of them--the conception of Christianity as _ressentiment_--set forth at
length in the first part of "The Genealogy of Morals," published under
his own supervision in 1887. And the rest are scattered through the
whole vast mass of his notes, sometimes as mere questionings but often
worked out very carefully. Moreover, let it not be forgotten that it was
Wagner's yielding to Christian sentimentality in "Parsifal" that
transformed Nietzsche from the first among his literary advocates into
the most bitter of his opponents. He could forgive every other sort of
mountebankery, but not that. "In me," he once said, "the Christianity of
my forbears reaches its logical conclusion. In me the stern intellectual
conscience that Christianity fosters and makes paramount turns _against_
Christianity. In me Christianity ... devours itself."

In truth, the present philippic is as necessary to the completeness of
the whole of Nietzsche's system as the keystone is to the arch. All the
curves of his speculation lead up to it. What he flung himself against,
from beginning to end of his days of writing, was always, in the last
analysis, Christianity in some form or other--Christianity as a system
of practical ethics, Christianity as a political code, Christianity as
metaphysics, Christianity as a gauge of the truth. It would be
difficult to think of any intellectual enterprise on his long list that
did not, more or less directly and clearly, relate itself to this master
enterprise of them all. It was as if his apostasy from the
faith of his fathers, filling him with the fiery zeal of the convert,
and particularly of the convert to heresy, had blinded him to every
other element in the gigantic self-delusion of civilized man. The will
to power was his answer to Christianity's affectation of humility and
self-sacrifice; eternal recurrence was his mocking criticism of
Christian optimism and millennialism; the superman was his candidate for
the place of the Christian ideal of the "good" man, prudently abased
before the throne of God. The things he chiefly argued for were
anti-Christian things--the abandonment of the purely moral view of life,
the rehabilitation of instinct, the dethronement of weakness and
timidity as ideals, the renunciation of the whole hocus-pocus of
dogmatic religion, the extermination of false aristocracies (of the
priest, of the politician, of the plutocrat), the revival of the
healthy, lordly "innocence" that was Greek. If he was anything in a
word, Nietzsche was a Greek born two thousand years too late. His
dreams were thoroughly Hellenic; his whole manner of thinking was
Hellenic; his peculiar errors were Hellenic no less. But his Hellenism,
I need not add, was anything but the pale neo-Platonism that has run
like a thread through the thinking of the Western world since the days
of the Christian Fathers. From Plato, to be sure, he got what all of us
must get, but his real forefather was Heraclitus. It is in Heraclitus
that one finds the germ of his primary view of the universe--a view, to
wit, that sees it, not as moral phenomenon, but as mere aesthetic
representation. The God that Nietzsche imagined, in the end, was not far
from the God that such an artist as Joseph Conrad imagines--a supreme
craftsman, ever experimenting, ever coming closer to an ideal balancing
of lines and forces, and yet always failing to work out the final

The late war, awakening all the primitive racial fury of the Western
nations, and therewith all their ancient enthusiasm for religious taboos
and sanctions, naturally focused attention upon Nietzsche, as upon the
most daring and provocative of recent amateur theologians. The Germans,
with their characteristic tendency to explain their every act in terms
as realistic and unpleasant as possible, appear to have mauled him in a
belated and unexpected embrace, to the horror, I daresay, of the Kaiser,
and perhaps to the even greater horror of Nietzsche's own ghost. The
folks of Anglo-Saxondom, with their equally characteristic tendency to
explain all their enterprises romantically, simultaneously set him up as
the Antichrist he no doubt secretly longed to be. The result was a great
deal of misrepresentation and misunderstanding of him. From the pulpits
of the allied countries, and particularly from those of England and the
United States, a horde of patriotic ecclesiastics denounced him in
extravagant terms as the author of all the horrors of the time, and in
the newspapers, until the Kaiser was elected sole bugaboo, he shared the
honors of that office with von Hindenburg, the Crown Prince, Capt.
Boy-Ed, von Bernstorff and von Tirpitz. Most of this denunciation, of
course, was frankly idiotic--the naive pishposh of suburban Methodists,
notoriety-seeking college professors, almost illiterate editorial
writers, and other such numskulls. In much of it, including not a few
official hymns of hate, Nietzsche was gravely discovered to be the
teacher of such spokesmen of the extremest sort of German nationalism
as von Bernhardi and von Treitschke--which was just as intelligent as
making George Bernard Shaw the mentor of Lloyd-George. In other solemn
pronunciamentoes he was credited with being philosophically responsible
for various imaginary crimes of the enemy--the wholesale slaughter or
mutilation of prisoners of war, the deliberate burning down of Red Cross
hospitals, the utilization of the corpses of the slain for soap-making.
I amused myself, in those gaudy days, by collecting newspaper clippings
to this general effect, and later on I shall probably publish a digest
of them, as a contribution to the study of war hysteria. The thing went
to unbelievable lengths. On the strength of the fact that I had
published a book on Nietzsche in 1906, six years after his death, I was
called upon by agents of the Department of Justice, elaborately
outfitted with badges, to meet the charge that I was an intimate
associate and agent of "the German monster, Nietzsky." I quote the
official _proces verbal_, an indignant but often misspelled document.
Alas, poor Nietzsche! After all his laborious efforts to prove that he
was not a German, but a Pole--even after his heroic readiness, via
anti-anti-Semitism, to meet the deduction that, if a Pole, then probably
also a Jew!

But under all this alarmed and preposterous tosh there was at least a
sound instinct, and that was the instinct which recognized Nietzsche as
the most eloquent, pertinacious and effective of all the critics of the
philosophy to which the Allies against Germany stood committed, and on
the strength of which, at all events in theory, the United States had
engaged itself in the war. He was not, in point of fact, involved with
the visible enemy, save in remote and transient ways; the German,
officially, remained the most ardent of Christians during the war and
became a democrat at its close. But he was plainly a foe of democracy in
all its forms, political, religious and epistemological, and what is
worse, his opposition was set forth in terms that were not only
extraordinarily penetrating and devastating, but also uncommonly
offensive. It was thus quite natural that he should have aroused a
degree of indignation verging upon the pathological in the two countries
that had planted themselves upon the democratic platform most boldly,
and that felt it most shaky, one may add, under their feet. I daresay
that Nietzsche, had he been alive, would have got a lot of satisfaction
out of the execration thus heaped upon him, not only because, being a
vain fellow, he enjoyed execration as a tribute to his general
singularity, and hence to his superiority, but also and more importantly
because, being no mean psychologist, he would have recognized the
disconcerting doubts underlying it. If Nietzsche's criticism of
democracy were as ignorant and empty, say, as the average evangelical
clergyman's criticism of Darwin's hypothesis of natural selection, then
the advocates of democracy could afford to dismiss it as loftily as the
Darwinians dismiss the blather of the holy clerks. And if his attack
upon Christianity were mere sound and fury, signifying nothing, then
there would be no call for anathemas from the sacred desk. But these
onslaughts, in point of fact, have behind them a tremendous learning and
a great deal of point and plausibility--there are, in brief, bullets in
the gun, teeth in the tiger,--and so it is no wonder that they excite
the ire of men who hold, as a primary article of belief, that their
acceptance would destroy civilization, darken the sun, and bring Jahveh
to sobs upon His Throne.

But in all this justifiable fear, of course, there remains a false
assumption, and that is the assumption that Nietzsche proposed to
destroy Christianity altogether, and so rob the plain people of the
world of their virtue, their spiritual consolations, and their hope of
heaven. Nothing could be more untrue. The fact is that Nietzsche had no
interest whatever in the delusions of the plain people--that is,
intrinsically. It seemed to him of small moment _what_ they believed, so
long as it was safely imbecile. What he stood against was not their
beliefs, but the elevation of those beliefs, by any sort of democratic
process, to the dignity of a state philosophy--what he feared most was
the pollution and crippling of the superior minority by intellectual
disease from below. His plain aim in "The Antichrist" was to combat that
menace by completing the work begun, on the one hand, by Darwin and the
other evolutionist philosophers, and, on the other hand, by German
historians and philologians. The net effect of this earlier attack, in
the eighties, had been the collapse of Christian theology as a serious
concern of educated men. The mob, it must be obvious, was very little
shaken; even to this day it has not put off its belief in the essential
Christian doctrines. But the _intelligentsia_, by 1885, had been pretty
well convinced. No man of sound information, at the time Nietzsche
planned "The Antichrist," actually believed that the world was created
in seven days, or that its fauna was once overwhelmed by a flood as a
penalty for the sins of man, or that Noah saved the boa constrictor, the
prairie dog and the _pediculus capitis_ by taking a pair of each into
the ark, or that Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt, or that a
fragment of the True Cross could cure hydrophobia. Such notions, still
almost universally prevalent in Christendom a century before, were now
confined to the great body of ignorant and credulous men--that is, to
ninety-five or ninety-six percent. of the race. For a man of the
superior minority to subscribe to one of them publicly was already
sufficient to set him off as one in imminent need of psychiatrical
attention. Belief in them had become a mark of inferiority, like the
allied belief in madstones, magic and apparitions.

But though the theology of Christianity had thus sunk to the lowly
estate of a mere delusion of the rabble, propagated on that level by the
ancient caste of sacerdotal parasites, the ethics of Christianity
continued to enjoy the utmost acceptance, and perhaps even more
acceptance than ever before. It seemed to be generally felt, in fact,
that they simply _must_ be saved from the wreck--that the world would
vanish into chaos if they went the way of the revelations supporting
them. In this fear a great many judicious men joined, and so there arose
what was, in essence, an absolutely new Christian cult--a cult, to wit,
purged of all the supernaturalism superimposed upon the older cult by
generations of theologians, and harking back to what was conceived to be
the pure ethical doctrine of Jesus. This cult still flourishes;
Protestantism tends to become identical with it; it invades Catholicism
as Modernism; it is supported by great numbers of men whose intelligence
is manifest and whose sincerity is not open to question. Even Nietzsche
himself yielded to it in weak moments, as you will discover on examining
his somewhat laborious effort to make Paul the villain of Christian
theology, and Jesus no more than an innocent bystander. But this
sentimental yielding never went far enough to distract his attention for
long from his main idea, which was this: that Christian ethics were
quite as dubious, at bottom, as Christian theology--that they were
founded, just as surely as such childish fables as the story of Jonah
and the whale, upon the peculiar prejudices and credulities, the special
desires and appetites, of inferior men--that they warred upon the best
interests of men of a better sort quite as unmistakably as the most
extravagant of objective superstitions. In brief, what he saw in
Christian ethics, under all the poetry and all the fine show of altruism
and all the theoretical benefits therein, was a democratic effort to
curb the egoism of the strong--a conspiracy of the _chandala_ against
the free functioning of their superiors, nay, against the free progress
of mankind. This theory is the thing he exposes in "The Antichrist,"
bringing to the business his amazingly chromatic and exigent eloquence
at its finest flower. This is the "conspiracy" he sets forth in all the
panoply of his characteristic italics, dashes, _sforzando_ interjections
and exclamation points.

Well, an idea is an idea. The present one may be right and it may be
wrong. One thing is quite certain: that no progress will be made against
it by denouncing it as merely immoral. If it is ever laid at all, it
must be laid evidentially, logically. The notion to the contrary is
thoroughly democratic; the mob is the most ruthless of tyrants; it is
always in a democratic society that heresy and felony tend to be most
constantly confused. One hears without surprise of a Bismarck
philosophizing placidly (at least in his old age) upon the delusion of
Socialism and of a Frederick the Great playing the hose of his cynicism
upon the absolutism that was almost identical with his own person, but
men in the mass never brook the destructive discussion of their
fundamental beliefs, and that impatience is naturally most evident in
those societies in which men in the mass are most influential. Democracy
and free speech are not facets of one gem; democracy and free speech are
eternal enemies. But in any battle between an institution and an idea,
the idea, in the long run, has the better of it. Here I do not venture
into the absurdity of arguing that, as the world wags on, the truth
always survives. I believe nothing of the sort. As a matter of fact, it
seems to me that an idea that happens to be true--or, more exactly, as
near to truth as any human idea can be, and yet remain generally
intelligible--it seems to me that such an idea carries a special and
often fatal handicap. The majority of men prefer delusion to truth. It
soothes. It is easy to grasp. Above all, it fits more snugly than the
truth into a universe of false appearances--of complex and irrational
phenomena, defectively grasped. But though an idea that is true is thus
not likely to prevail, an idea that is _attacked_ enjoys a great
advantage. The evidence behind it is now supported by sympathy, the
sporting instinct, sentimentality--and sentimentality is as powerful as
an army with banners. One never hears of a martyr in history whose
notions are seriously disputed today. The forgotten ideas are those of
the men who put them forward soberly and quietly, hoping fatuously that
they would conquer by the force of their truth; these are the ideas that
we now struggle to rediscover. Had Nietzsche lived to be burned at the
stake by outraged Mississippi Methodists, it would have been a glorious
day for his doctrines. As it is, they are helped on their way every time
they are denounced as immoral and against God. The war brought down upon
them the maledictions of vast herds of right-thinking men. And now "The
Antichrist," after fifteen years of neglect, is being reprinted....

One imagines the author, a sardonic wraith, snickering somewhat sadly
over the fact. His shade, wherever it suffers, is favoured in these days
by many such consolations, some of them of much greater horsepower.
Think of the facts and arguments, even the underlying theories and
attitudes, that have been borrowed from him, consciously and
unconsciously, by the foes of Bolshevism during these last thrilling
years! The face of democracy, suddenly seen hideously close, has scared
the guardians of the reigning plutocracy half to death, and they have
gone to the devil himself for aid. Southern Senators, almost illiterate
men, have mixed his acids with well water and spouted them like
affrighted geysers, not knowing what they did. Nor are they the first to
borrow from him. Years ago I called attention to the debt incurred with
characteristic forgetfulness of obligation by the late Theodore
Roosevelt, in "The Strenuous Life" and elsewhere. Roosevelt, a typical
apologist for the existing order, adeptly dragging a herring across the
trail whenever it was menaced, yet managed to delude the native boobery,
at least until toward the end, into accepting him as a fiery exponent of
pure democracy. Perhaps he even fooled himself; charlatans usually do
so soon or late. A study of Nietzsche reveals the sources of much that
was honest in him, and exposes the hollowness of much that was sham.
Nietzsche, an infinitely harder and more courageous intellect, was
incapable of any such confusion of ideas; he seldom allowed
sentimentality to turn him from the glaring fact. What is called
Bolshevism today he saw clearly a generation ago and described for what
it was and is--democracy in another aspect, the old _ressentiment_ of the
lower orders in free function once more. Socialism, Puritanism,
Philistinism, Christianity--he saw them all as allotropic forms of
democracy, as variations upon the endless struggle of quantity against
quality, of the weak and timorous against the strong and enterprising,
of the botched against the fit. The world needed a staggering
exaggeration to make it see even half of the truth. It trembles today as
it trembled during the French Revolution. Perhaps it would tremble less
if it could combat the monster with a clearer conscience and less burden
of compromising theory--if it could launch its forces frankly at the
fundamental doctrine, and not merely employ them to police the
transient orgy.

Nietzsche, in the long run, may help it toward that greater honesty. His
notions, propagated by cuttings from cuttings from cuttings, may
conceivably prepare the way for a sounder, more healthful theory of
society and of the state, and so free human progress from the
stupidities which now hamper it, and men of true vision from the
despairs which now sicken them. I say it is conceivable, but I doubt
that it is probable. The soul and the belly of mankind are too evenly
balanced; it is not likely that the belly will ever put away its hunger
or forget its power. Here, perhaps, there is an example of the eternal
recurrence that Nietzsche was fond of mulling over in his blacker moods.
We are in the midst of one of the perennial risings of the lower orders.
It got under way long before any of the current Bolshevist demons was
born; it was given its long, secure start by the intolerable tyranny of
the plutocracy--the end product of the Eighteenth Century revolt against
the old aristocracy. It found resistance suddenly slackened by civil war
within the plutocracy itself--one gang of traders falling upon another
gang, to the tune of vast hymn-singing and yells to God. Perhaps it has
already passed its apogee; the plutocracy, chastened, shows signs of a
new solidarity; the wheel continues to swing 'round. But this combat
between proletariat and plutocracy is, after all, itself a civil war.
Two inferiorities struggle for the privilege of polluting the world.
What actual difference does it make to a civilized man, when there is a
steel strike, whether the workmen win or the mill-owners win? The
conflict can interest him only as spectacle, as the conflict between
Bonaparte and the old order in Europe interested Goethe and Beethoven.
The victory, whichever way it goes, will simply bring chaos nearer, and
so set the stage for a genuine revolution later on, with (let us hope) a
new feudalism or something better coming out of it, and a new Thirteenth
Century at dawn. This seems to be the slow, costly way of the worst of
habitable worlds.

In the present case my money is laid upon the plutocracy. It will win
because it will be able, in the long run, to enlist the finer
intelligences. The mob and its maudlin causes attract only
sentimentalists and scoundrels, chiefly the latter. Politics, under a
democracy, reduces itself to a mere struggle for office by flatterers
of the proletariat; even when a superior man prevails at that disgusting
game he must prevail at the cost of his self-respect. Not many superior
men make the attempt. The average great captain of the rabble, when he
is not simply a weeper over irremediable wrongs, is a hypocrite so far
gone that he is unconscious of his own hypocrisy--a slimy fellow,
offensive to the nose. The plutocracy can recruit measurably more
respectable janissaries, if only because it can make self-interest less
obviously costly to _amour propre_. Its defect and its weakness lie in
the fact that it is still too young to have acquired dignity. But lately
sprung from the mob it now preys upon, it yet shows some of the habits
of mind of that mob: it is blatant, stupid, ignorant, lacking in all
delicate instinct and governmental finesse. Above all, it remains
somewhat heavily moral. One seldom finds it undertaking one of its
characteristic imbecilities without offering a sonorous moral reason; it
spends almost as much to support the Y. M. C. A., vice-crusading,
Prohibition and other such puerilities as it spends upon Congressmen,
strike-breakers, gun-men, kept patriots and newspapers. In England the
case is even worse. It is almost impossible to find a wealthy industrial
over there who is not also an eminent non-conformist layman, and even
among financiers there are praying brothers. On the Continent, the day
is saved by the fact that the plutocracy tends to become more and more
Jewish. Here the intellectual cynicism of the Jew almost counterbalances
his social unpleasantness. If he is destined to lead the plutocracy of
the world out of Little Bethel he will fail, of course, to turn it into
an aristocracy--_i. e._, a caste of gentlemen--, but he will at least
make it clever, and hence worthy of consideration. The case against the
Jews is long and damning; it would justify ten thousand times as many
pogroms as now go on in the world. But whenever you find a
Davidsbuendlerschaft making practise against the Philistines, there you
will find a Jew laying on. Maybe it was this fact that caused Nietzsche
to speak up for the children of Israel quite as often as he spoke
against them. He was not blind to their faults, but when he set them
beside Christians he could not deny their general superiority. Perhaps
in America and England, as on the Continent, the increasing Jewishness
of the plutocracy, while cutting it off from all chance of ever
developing into an aristocracy, will yet lift it to such a dignity that
it will at least deserve a certain grudging respect.

But even so, it will remain in a sort of half-world, midway between the
gutter and the stars. Above it will still stand the small group of men
that constitutes the permanent aristocracy of the race--the men of
imagination and high purpose, the makers of genuine progress, the brave
and ardent spirits, above all petty fears and discontents and above all
petty hopes and ideals no less. There were heroes before Agamemnon;
there will be Bachs after Johann Sebastian. And beneath the Judaized
plutocracy, the sublimated _bourgeoisie_, there the immemorial
proletariat, I venture to guess, will roar on, endlessly tortured by its
vain hatreds and envies, stampeded and made to tremble by its ancient
superstitions, prodded and made miserable by its sordid and degrading
hopes. It seems to me very likely that, in this proletariat,
Christianity will continue to survive. It is nonsense, true enough, but
it is sweet. Nietzsche, denouncing its dangers as a poison, almost falls
into the error of denying it its undoubtedly sugary smack. Of all the
religions ever devised by the great practical jokers of the race, this
is the one that offers most for the least money, so to speak, to the
inferior man. It starts out by denying his inferiority in plain terms:
_all_ men are equal in the sight of God. It ends by erecting that
inferiority into a sort of actual superiority: it is a merit to be
stupid, and miserable, and sorely put upon--of such are the celestial
elect. Not all the eloquence of a million Nietzsches, nor all the
painful marshalling of evidence of a million Darwins and Harnacks, will
ever empty that great consolation of its allure. The most they can ever
accomplish is to make the superior orders of men acutely conscious of
the exact nature of it, and so give them armament against the contagion.
This is going on; this is being done. I think that "The Antichrist" has
a useful place in that enterprise. It is strident, it is often
extravagant, it is, to many sensitive men, in the worst of possible
taste, but at bottom it is enormously apt and effective--and on the
surface it is undoubtedly a good show. One somehow enjoys, with the
malice that is native to man, the spectacle of anathemas batted back; it
is refreshing to see the pitchfork employed against gentlemen who have
doomed such innumerable caravans to hell. In Nietzsche they found, after
many long years, a foeman worthy of them--not a mere fancy swordsman
like Voltaire, or a mob orator like Tom Paine, or a pedant like the
heretics of exegesis, but a gladiator armed with steel and armoured with
steel, and showing all the ferocious gusto of a mediaeval bishop. It is
a pity that Holy Church has no process for the elevation of demons, like
its process for the canonization of saints. There must be a long roll of
black miracles to the discredit of the Accursed Friedrich--sinners
purged of conscience and made happy in their sinning, clerics shaken in
their theology by visions of a new and better holy city, the strong made
to exult, the weak robbed of their old sad romance. It would be a
pleasure to see the _Advocatus Diaboli_ turn from the table of the
prosecution to the table of the defence, and move in solemn form for the
damnation of the Naumburg hobgoblin....

Of all Nietzsche's books, "The Antichrist" comes nearest to
conventionality in form. It presents a connected argument with very few
interludes, and has a beginning, a middle and an end. Most of his works
are in the form of collections of apothegms, and sometimes the subject
changes on every second page. This fact constitutes one of the counts in
the orthodox indictment of him: it is cited as proof that his capacity
for consecutive thought was limited, and that he was thus deficient
mentally, and perhaps a downright moron. The argument, it must be
obvious, is fundamentally nonsensical. What deceives the professors is
the traditional prolixity of philosophers. Because the average
philosophical writer, when he essays to expose his ideas, makes such
inordinate drafts upon the parts of speech that the dictionary is almost
emptied these defective observers jump to the conclusion that his
intrinsic notions are of corresponding weight. This is not unseldom
quite untrue. What makes philosophy so garrulous is not the profundity
of philosophers, but their lack of art; they are like physicians who
sought to cure a slight hyperacidity by giving the patient a carload of
burned oyster-shells to eat. There is, too, the endless poll-parrotting
that goes on: each new philosopher must prove his learning by
laboriously rehearsing the ideas of all previous philosophers....
Nietzsche avoided both faults. He always assumed that his readers knew
the books, and that it was thus unnecessary to rewrite them. And, having
an idea that seemed to him to be novel and original, he stated it in as
few words as possible, and then shut down. Sometimes he got it into a
hundred words; sometimes it took a thousand; now and then, as in the
present case, he developed a series of related ideas into a connected
book. But he never wrote a word too many. He never pumped up an idea to
make it appear bigger than it actually was. The pedagogues, alas, are
not accustomed to that sort of writing in serious fields. They resent
it, and sometimes they even try to improve it. There exists, in fact, a
huge and solemn tome on Nietzsche by a learned man of America in which
all of his brilliancy is painfully translated into the windy phrases of
the seminaries. The tome is satisfactorily ponderous, but the meat of
the cocoanut is left out: there is actually no discussion of the
Nietzschean view of Christianity!... Always Nietzsche daunts the
pedants. He employed too few words for them--and he had too many ideas.

       *       *       *       *       *

The present translation of "The Antichrist" is published by agreement
with Dr. Oscar Levy, editor of the English edition of Nietzsche. There
are two earlier translations, one by Thomas Common and the other by
Anthony M. Ludovici. That of Mr. Common follows the text very closely,
and thus occasionally shows some essentially German turns of phrase;
that of Mr. Ludovici is more fluent but rather less exact. I do not
offer my own version on the plea that either of these is useless; on the
contrary, I cheerfully acknowledge that they have much merit, and that
they helped me at almost every line. I began this new Englishing of the
book, not in any hope of supplanting them, and surely not with any
notion of meeting a great public need, but simply as a private amusement
in troubled days. But as I got on with it I began to see ways of putting
some flavour of Nietzsche's peculiar style into the English, and so
amusement turned into a more or less serious labour. The result, of
course, is far from satisfactory, but it at least represents a very
diligent attempt. Nietzsche, always under the influence of French
models, wrote a German that differs materially from any other German
that I know. It is more nervous, more varied, more rapid in tempo; it
runs to more effective climaxes; it is never stodgy. His marks begin to
show upon the writing of the younger Germans of today. They are getting
away from the old thunderous manner, with its long sentences and its
tedious grammatical complexities. In the course of time, I daresay, they
will develop a German almost as clear as French and almost as colourful
and resilient as English.

I owe thanks to Dr. Levy for his _imprimatur_, to Mr. Theodor Hemberger
for criticism, and to Messrs. Common and Ludovici for showing me the way
around many a difficulty.

                        H. L. MENCKEN.


This book belongs to the most rare of men. Perhaps not one of them is
yet alive. It is possible that they may be among those who understand my
"Zarathustra": how _could_ I confound myself with those who are now
sprouting ears?--First the day after tomorrow must come for me. Some men
are born posthumously.

The conditions under which any one understands me, and _necessarily_
understands me--I know them only too well. Even to endure my
seriousness, my passion, he must carry intellectual integrity to the
verge of hardness. He must be accustomed to living on mountain tops--and
to looking upon the wretched gabble of politics and nationalism as
_beneath_ him. He must have become indifferent; he must never ask of the
truth whether it brings profit to him or a fatality to him.... He must
have an inclination, born of strength, for questions that no one has the
courage for; the courage for the _forbidden_; predestination for the
labyrinth. The experience of seven solitudes. New ears for new music.
New eyes for what is most distant. A new conscience for truths that have
hitherto remained unheard. _And_ the will to economize in the grand
manner--to hold together his strength, his enthusiasm.... Reverence for
self; love of self; absolute freedom of self....

Very well, then! of that sort only are my readers, my true readers, my
readers foreordained: of what account are the _rest_?--The rest are
merely humanity.--One must make one's self superior to humanity, in
power, in _loftiness_ of soul,--in contempt.

                        FRIEDRICH W. NIETZSCHE.



--Let us look each other in the face. We are Hyperboreans--we know well
enough how remote our place is. "Neither by land nor by water will you
find the road to the Hyperboreans": even Pindar,[1] in his day, knew
_that_ much about us. Beyond the North, beyond the ice, beyond
_death_--_our_ life, _our_ happiness.... We have discovered that
happiness; we know the way; we got our knowledge of it from thousands of
years in the labyrinth. Who _else_ has found it?--The man of today?--"I
don't know either the way out or the way in; I am whatever doesn't know
either the way out or the way in"--so sighs the man of today.... _This_
is the sort of modernity that made us ill,--we sickened on lazy peace,
cowardly compromise, the whole virtuous dirtiness of the modern Yea and
Nay. This tolerance and _largeur_ of the heart that "forgives"
everything because it "understands" everything is a sirocco to us.
Rather live amid the ice than among modern virtues and other such
south-winds!... We were brave enough; we spared neither ourselves nor
others; but we were a long time finding out _where_ to direct our
courage. We grew dismal; they called us fatalists. _Our_ fate--it was
the fulness, the tension, the _storing up_ of powers. We thirsted for
the lightnings and great deeds; we kept as far as possible from the
happiness of the weakling, from "resignation"... There was thunder in
our air; nature, as we embodied it, became overcast--_for we had not yet
found the way_. The formula of our happiness: a Yea, a Nay, a straight
line, a _goal_....

[1] _Cf._ the tenth Pythian ode. See also the fourth book of Herodotus.
The Hyperboreans were a mythical people beyond the Rhipaean mountains,
in the far North. They enjoyed unbroken happiness and perpetual youth.


What is good?--Whatever augments the feeling of power, the will to
power, power itself, in man.

What is evil?--Whatever springs from weakness.

What is happiness?--The feeling that power _increases_--that resistance
is overcome.

Not contentment, but more power; _not_ peace at any price, but war;
_not_ virtue, but efficiency (virtue in the Renaissance sense, _virtu_,
virtue free of moral acid).

The weak and the botched shall perish: first principle of _our_ charity.
And one should help them to it.

What is more harmful than any vice?--Practical sympathy for the botched
and the weak--Christianity....


The problem that I set here is not what shall replace mankind in the
order of living creatures (--man is an end--): but what type of man must
be _bred_, must be _willed_, as being the most valuable, the most worthy
of life, the most secure guarantee of the future.

This more valuable type has appeared often enough in the past: but
always as a happy accident, as an exception, never as deliberately
_willed_. Very often it has been precisely the most feared; hitherto it
has been almost _the_ terror of terrors;--and out of that terror the
contrary type has been willed, cultivated and _attained_: the domestic
animal, the herd animal, the sick brute-man--the Christian....


Mankind surely does _not_ represent an evolution toward a better or
stronger or higher level, as progress is now understood. This "progress"
is merely a modern idea, which is to say, a false idea. The European of
today, in his essential worth, falls far below the European of the
Renaissance; the process of evolution does _not_ necessarily mean
elevation, enhancement, strengthening.

True enough, it succeeds in isolated and individual cases in various
parts of the earth and under the most widely different cultures, and in
these cases a _higher_ type certainly manifests itself; something which,
compared to mankind in the mass, appears as a sort of superman. Such
happy strokes of high success have always been possible, and will remain
possible, perhaps, for all time to come. Even whole races, tribes and
nations may occasionally represent such lucky accidents.


We should not deck out and embellish Christianity: it has waged a war to
the death against this _higher_ type of man, it has put all the deepest
instincts of this type under its ban, it has developed its concept of
evil, of the Evil One himself, out of these instincts--the strong man as
the typical reprobate, the "outcast among men." Christianity has taken
the part of all the weak, the low, the botched; it has made an ideal out
of _antagonism_ to all the self-preservative instincts of sound life; it
has corrupted even the faculties of those natures that are
intellectually most vigorous, by representing the highest intellectual
values as sinful, as misleading, as full of temptation. The most
lamentable example: the corruption of Pascal, who believed that his
intellect had been destroyed by original sin, whereas it was actually
destroyed by Christianity!--


It is a painful and tragic spectacle that rises before me: I have drawn
back the curtain from the _rottenness_ of man. This word, in my mouth,
is at least free from one suspicion: that it involves a moral accusation
against humanity. It is used--and I wish to emphasize the fact
again--without any moral significance: and this is so far true that the
rottenness I speak of is most apparent to me precisely in those quarters
where there has been most aspiration, hitherto, toward "virtue" and
"godliness." As you probably surmise, I understand rottenness in the
sense of _decadence_: my argument is that all the values on which
mankind now fixes its highest aspirations are _decadence_-values.

I call an animal, a species, an individual corrupt, when it loses its
instincts, when it chooses, when it _prefers_, what is injurious to it.
A history of the "higher feelings," the "ideals of humanity"--and it is
possible that I'll have to write it--would almost explain why man is so
degenerate. Life itself appears to me as an instinct for growth, for
survival, for the accumulation of forces, for _power_: whenever the will
to power fails there is disaster. My contention is that all the highest
values of humanity have been emptied of this will--that the values of
_decadence_, of _nihilism_, now prevail under the holiest names.


Christianity is called the religion of _pity_.--Pity stands in
opposition to all the tonic passions that augment the energy of the
feeling of aliveness: it is a depressant. A man loses power when he
pities. Through pity that drain upon strength which suffering works is
multiplied a thousandfold. Suffering is made contagious by pity; under
certain circumstances it may lead to a total sacrifice of life and
living energy--a loss out of all proportion to the magnitude of the
cause (--the case of the death of the Nazarene). This is the first view
of it; there is, however, a still more important one. If one measures
the effects of pity by the gravity of the reactions it sets up, its
character as a menace to life appears in a much clearer light. Pity
thwarts the whole law of evolution, which is the law of natural
selection. It preserves whatever is ripe for destruction; it fights on
the side of those disinherited and condemned by life; by maintaining
life in so many of the botched of all kinds, it gives life itself a
gloomy and dubious aspect. Mankind has ventured to call pity a virtue
(--in every _superior_ moral system it appears as a weakness--); going
still further, it has been called _the_ virtue, the source and
foundation of all other virtues--but let us always bear in mind that
this was from the standpoint of a philosophy that was nihilistic, and
upon whose shield _the denial of life_ was inscribed. Schopenhauer was
right in this: that by means of pity life is denied, and made _worthy of
denial_--pity is the technic of nihilism. Let me repeat: this depressing
and contagious instinct stands against all those instincts which work
for the preservation and enhancement of life: in the role of _protector_
of the miserable, it is a prime agent in the promotion of
_decadence_--pity persuades to extinction.... Of course, one doesn't say
"extinction": one says "the other world," or "God," or "the _true_
life," or Nirvana, salvation, blessedness.... This innocent rhetoric,
from the realm of religious-ethical balderdash, appears _a good deal
less innocent_ when one reflects upon the tendency that it conceals
beneath sublime words: the tendency to _destroy life_. Schopenhauer was
hostile to life: that is why pity appeared to him as a virtue....
Aristotle, as every one knows, saw in pity a sickly and dangerous state
of mind, the remedy for which was an occasional purgative: he regarded
tragedy as that purgative. The instinct of life should prompt us to seek
some means of puncturing any such pathological and dangerous
accumulation of pity as that appearing in Schopenhauer's case (and also,
alack, in that of our whole literary _decadence_, from St. Petersburg to
Paris, from Tolstoi to Wagner), that it may burst and be discharged....
Nothing is more unhealthy, amid all our unhealthy modernism, than
Christian pity. To be the doctors _here_, to be unmerciful _here_, to
wield the knife _here_--all this is _our_ business, all this is _our_
sort of humanity, by this sign we are philosophers, we Hyperboreans!--


It is necessary to say just _whom_ we regard as our antagonists:
theologians and all who have any theological blood in their veins--this
is our whole philosophy.... One must have faced that menace at close
hand, better still, one must have had experience of it directly and
almost succumbed to it, to realize that it is not to be taken lightly
(--the alleged free-thinking of our naturalists and physiologists seems
to me to be a joke--they have no passion about such things; they have
not suffered--). This poisoning goes a great deal further than most
people think: I find the arrogant habit of the theologian among all who
regard themselves as "idealists"--among all who, by virtue of a higher
point of departure, claim a right to rise above reality, and to look
upon it with suspicion.... The idealist, like the ecclesiastic, carries
all sorts of lofty concepts in his hand (--and not only in his hand!);
he launches them with benevolent contempt against "understanding," "the
senses," "honor," "good living," "science"; he sees such things as
_beneath_ him, as pernicious and seductive forces, on which "the soul"
soars as a pure thing-in-itself--as if humility, chastity, poverty, in a
word, _holiness_, had not already done much more damage to life than all
imaginable horrors and vices.... The pure soul is a pure lie.... So long
as the priest, that _professional_ denier, calumniator and poisoner of
life, is accepted as a _higher_ variety of man, there can be no answer
to the question, What _is_ truth? Truth has already been stood on its
head when the obvious attorney of mere emptiness is mistaken for its


Upon this theological instinct I make war: I find the tracks of it
everywhere. Whoever has theological blood in his veins is shifty and
dishonourable in all things. The pathetic thing that grows out of this
condition is called _faith_: in other words, closing one's eyes upon
one's self once for all, to avoid suffering the sight of incurable
falsehood. People erect a concept of morality, of virtue, of holiness
upon this false view of all things; they ground good conscience upon
faulty vision; they argue that no _other_ sort of vision has value any
more, once they have made theirs sacrosanct with the names of "God,"
"salvation" and "eternity." I unearth this theological instinct in all
directions: it is the most widespread and the most _subterranean_ form
of falsehood to be found on earth. Whatever a theologian regards as true
_must_ be false: there you have almost a criterion of truth. His
profound instinct of self-preservation stands against truth ever coming
into honour in any way, or even getting stated. Wherever the influence
of theologians is felt there is a transvaluation of values, and the
concepts "true" and "false" are forced to change places: whatever is
most damaging to life is there called "true," and whatever exalts it,
intensifies it, approves it, justifies it and makes it triumphant is
there called "false."... When theologians, working through the
"consciences" of princes (or of peoples--), stretch out their hands for
_power_, there is never any doubt as to the fundamental issue: the will
to make an end, the _nihilistic_ will exerts that power....


Among Germans I am immediately understood when I say that theological
blood is the ruin of philosophy. The Protestant pastor is the
grandfather of German philosophy; Protestantism itself is its _peccatum
originale_. Definition of Protestantism: hemiplegic paralysis of
Christianity--_and_ of reason.... One need only utter the words
"Tuebingen School" to get an understanding of what German philosophy is
at bottom--a very artful form of theology.... The Suabians are the best
liars in Germany; they lie innocently.... Why all the rejoicing over
the appearance of Kant that went through the learned world of Germany,
three-fourths of which is made up of the sons of preachers and
teachers--why the German conviction still echoing, that with Kant came a
change for the _better_? The theological instinct of German scholars
made them see clearly just _what_ had become possible again.... A
backstairs leading to the old ideal stood open; the concept of the "true
world," the concept of morality as the _essence_ of the world (--the two
most vicious errors that ever existed!), were once more, thanks to a
subtle and wily scepticism, if not actually demonstrable, then _at
least_ no longer _refutable_.... _Reason_, the _prerogative_ of reason,
does not go so far.... Out of reality there had been made "appearance";
an absolutely false world, that of being, had been turned into
reality.... The success of Kant is merely a theological success; he was,
like Luther and Leibnitz, but one more impediment to German integrity,
already far from steady.--


A word now against Kant as a moralist. A virtue must be _our_ invention;
it must spring out of _our_ personal need and defence. In every other
case it is a source of danger. That which does not belong to our life
_menaces_ it; a virtue which has its roots in mere respect for the
concept of "virtue," as Kant would have it, is pernicious. "Virtue,"
"duty," "good for its own sake," goodness grounded upon impersonality or
a notion of universal validity--these are all chimeras, and in them one
finds only an expression of the decay, the last collapse of life, the
Chinese spirit of Koenigsberg. Quite the contrary is demanded by the most
profound laws of self-preservation and of growth: to wit, that every man
find his _own_ virtue, his _own_ categorical imperative. A nation goes
to pieces when it confounds _its_ duty with the general concept of duty.
Nothing works a more complete and penetrating disaster than every
"impersonal" duty, every sacrifice before the Moloch of abstraction.--To
think that no one has thought of Kant's categorical imperative as
_dangerous to life_!... The theological instinct alone took it under
protection!--An action prompted by the life-instinct proves that it is a
_right_ action by the amount of pleasure that goes with it: and yet that
Nihilist, with his bowels of Christian dogmatism, regarded pleasure as
an _objection_.... What destroys a man more quickly than to work, think
and feel without inner necessity, without any deep personal desire,
without pleasure--as a mere automaton of duty? That is the recipe for
_decadence_, and no less for idiocy.... Kant became an idiot.--And such
a man was the contemporary of Goethe! This calamitous spinner of cobwebs
passed for _the_ German philosopher--still passes today!... I forbid
myself to say what I think of the Germans.... Didn't Kant see in the
French Revolution the transformation of the state from the inorganic
form to the _organic_? Didn't he ask himself if there was a single event
that could be explained save on the assumption of a moral faculty in
man, so that on the basis of it, "the tendency of mankind toward the
good" could be _explained_, once and for all time? Kant's answer: "That
is revolution." Instinct at fault in everything and anything, instinct
as a revolt against nature, German _decadence_ as a philosophy--_that is


I put aside a few sceptics, the types of decency in the history of
philosophy: the rest haven't the slightest conception of intellectual
integrity. They behave like women, all these great enthusiasts and
prodigies--they regard "beautiful feelings" as arguments, the "heaving
breast" as the bellows of divine inspiration, conviction as the
_criterion_ of truth. In the end, with "German" innocence, Kant tried to
give a scientific flavour to this form of corruption, this dearth of
intellectual conscience, by calling it "practical reason." He
deliberately invented a variety of reasons for use on occasions when it
was desirable not to trouble with reason--that is, when morality, when
the sublime command "thou shalt," was heard. When one recalls the fact
that, among all peoples, the philosopher is no more than a development
from the old type of priest, this inheritance from the priest, this
_fraud upon self_, ceases to be remarkable. When a man feels that he has
a divine mission, say to lift up, to save or to liberate mankind--when a
man feels the divine spark in his heart and believes that he is the
mouthpiece of supernatural imperatives--when such a mission inflames
him, it is only natural that he should stand beyond all merely
reasonable standards of judgment. He feels that he is _himself_
sanctified by this mission, that he is himself a type of a higher
order!... What has a priest to do with philosophy! He stands far above
it!--And hitherto the priest has _ruled_!--He has determined the meaning
of "true" and "not true"!...


Let us not underestimate this fact: that _we
ourselves_, we free spirits, are already a "transvaluation of all
values," a _visualized_ declaration of war and victory against all the
old concepts of "true" and "not true." The most valuable intuitions are
the last to be attained; the most valuable of all are those which
determine _methods_. All the methods, all the principles of the
scientific spirit of today, were the targets for thousands of years of
the most profound contempt; if a man inclined to them he was excluded
from the society of "decent" people--he passed as "an enemy of God," as
a scoffer at the truth, as one "possessed." As a man of science, he
belonged to the Chandala[2].... We have had the whole pathetic stupidity
of mankind against us--their every notion of what the truth _ought_ to
be, of what the service of the truth _ought_ to be--their every "thou
shalt" was launched against us.... Our objectives, our methods, our
quiet, cautious, distrustful manner--all appeared to them as absolutely
discreditable and contemptible.--Looking back, one may almost ask one's
self with reason if it was not actually an _aesthetic_ sense that kept
men blind so long: what they demanded of the truth was picturesque
effectiveness, and of the learned a strong appeal to their senses. It
was our _modesty_ that stood out longest against their taste.... How
well they guessed that, these turkey-cocks of God!

[2] The lowest of the Hindu castes.


We have unlearned something. We have become more modest in every way. We
no longer derive man from the "spirit," from the "godhead"; we have
dropped him back among the beasts. We regard him as the strongest of the
beasts because he is the craftiest; one of the results thereof is his
intellectuality. On the other hand, we guard ourselves against a conceit
which would assert itself even here: that man is the great second
thought in the process of organic evolution. He is, in truth, anything
but the crown of creation: beside him stand many other animals, all at
similar stages of development.... And even when we say that we say a bit
too much, for man, relatively speaking, is the most botched of all the
animals and the sickliest, and he has wandered the most dangerously from
his instincts--though for all that, to be sure, he remains the most
_interesting_!--As regards the lower animals, it was Descartes who first
had the really admirable daring to describe them as _machina_; the whole
of our physiology is directed toward proving the truth of this doctrine.
Moreover, it is illogical to set man apart, as Descartes did: what we
know of man today is limited precisely by the extent to which we have
regarded him, too, as a machine. Formerly we accorded to man, as his
inheritance from some higher order of beings, what was called "free
will"; now we have taken even this will from him, for the term no longer
describes anything that we can understand. The old word "will" now
connotes only a sort of result, an individual reaction, that follows
inevitably upon a series of partly discordant and partly harmonious
stimuli--the will no longer "acts," or "moves."... Formerly it was
thought that man's consciousness, his "spirit," offered evidence of his
high origin, his divinity. That he might be _perfected_, he was advised,
tortoise-like, to draw his senses in, to have no traffic with earthly
things, to shuffle off his mortal coil--then only the important part of
him, the "pure spirit," would remain. Here again we have thought out the
thing better: to us consciousness, or "the spirit," appears as a symptom
of a relative imperfection of the organism, as an experiment, a groping,
a misunderstanding, as an affliction which uses up nervous force
unnecessarily--we deny that anything can be done perfectly so long as it
is done consciously. The "pure spirit" is a piece of pure stupidity:
take away the nervous system and the senses, the so-called "mortal
shell," and _the rest is miscalculation_--that is all!...


Under Christianity neither morality nor religion has any point of
contact with actuality. It offers purely imaginary _causes_ ("God,"
"soul," "ego," "spirit," "free will"--or even "unfree"), and purely
imaginary _effects_ ("sin," "salvation," "grace," "punishment,"
"forgiveness of sins"). Intercourse between imaginary _beings_ ("God,"
"spirits," "souls"); an imaginary _natural history_ (anthropocentric; a
total denial of the concept of natural causes); an imaginary
_psychology_ (misunderstandings of self, misinterpretations of agreeable
or disagreeable general feelings--for example, of the states of the
_nervus sympathicus_ with the help of the sign-language of
religio-ethical balderdash--, "repentance," "pangs of conscience,"
"temptation by the devil," "the presence of God"); an imaginary
_teleology_ (the "kingdom of God," "the last judgment," "eternal
life").--This purely _fictitious world_, greatly to its disadvantage, is
to be differentiated from the world of dreams; the latter at least
reflects reality, whereas the former falsifies it, cheapens it and
denies it. Once the concept of "nature" had been opposed to the concept
of "God," the word "natural" necessarily took on the meaning of
"abominable"--the whole of that fictitious world has its sources in
hatred of the natural (--the real!--), and is no more than evidence of a
profound uneasiness in the presence of reality.... _This explains
everything._ Who alone has any reason for living his way out of reality?
The man who suffers under it. But to suffer from reality one must be a
_botched_ reality.... The preponderance of pains over pleasures is the
cause of this fictitious morality and religion: but such a preponderance
also supplies the formula for _decadence_....


A criticism of the _Christian concept of God_ leads inevitably to the
same conclusion.--A nation that still believes in itself holds fast to
its own god. In him it does honour to the conditions which enable it to
survive, to its virtues--it projects its joy in itself, its feeling of
power, into a being to whom one may offer thanks. He who is rich will
give of his riches; a proud people need a god to whom they can make
_sacrifices_.... Religion, within these limits, is a form of gratitude.
A man is grateful for his own existence: to that end he needs a
god.--Such a god must be able to work both benefits and injuries; he
must be able to play either friend or foe--he is wondered at for the
good he does as well as for the evil he does. But the castration,
against all nature, of such a god, making him a god of goodness alone,
would be contrary to human inclination. Mankind has just as much need
for an evil god as for a good god; it doesn't have to thank mere
tolerance and humanitarianism for its own existence.... What would be
the value of a god who knew nothing of anger, revenge, envy, scorn,
cunning, violence? who had perhaps never experienced the rapturous
_ardeurs_ of victory and of destruction? No one would understand such a
god: why should any one want him?--True enough, when a nation is on the
downward path, when it feels its belief in its own future, its hope of
freedom slipping from it, when it begins to see submission as a first
necessity and the virtues of submission as measures of self-preservation,
then it _must_ overhaul its god. He then becomes a hypocrite, timorous
and demure; he counsels "peace of soul," hate-no-more, leniency, "love"
of friend and foe. He moralizes endlessly; he creeps into every private
virtue; he becomes the god of every man; he becomes a private citizen, a
cosmopolitan.... Formerly he represented a people, the strength of a
people, everything aggressive and thirsty for power in the soul of a
people; now he is simply _the good god_.... The truth is that there is
no other alternative for gods: _either_ they are the will to power--in
which case they are national gods--_or_ incapacity for power--in which
case they have to be good....


Wherever the will to power begins to decline, in whatever form, there is
always an accompanying decline physiologically, a _decadence_. The
divinity of this _decadence_, shorn of its masculine virtues and
passions, is converted perforce into a god of the physiologically
degraded, of the weak. Of course, they do not _call_ themselves the
weak; they call themselves "the good."... No hint is needed to indicate
the moments in history at which the dualistic fiction of a good and an
evil god first became possible. The same instinct which prompts the
inferior to reduce their own god to "goodness-in-itself" also prompts
them to eliminate all good qualities from the god of their superiors;
they make revenge on their masters by making a _devil_ of the latter's
god.--The _good_ god, and the devil like him--both are abortions of
_decadence_.--How can we be so tolerant of the naivete of Christian
theologians as to join in their doctrine that the evolution of the
concept of god from "the god of Israel," the god of a people, to the
Christian god, the essence of all goodness, is to be described as
_progress_?--But even Renan does this. As if Renan had a right to be
naive! The contrary actually stares one in the face. When everything
necessary to _ascending_ life; when all that is strong, courageous,
masterful and proud has been eliminated from the concept of a god; when
he has sunk step by step to the level of a staff for the weary, a
sheet-anchor for the drowning; when he becomes the poor man's god, the
sinner's god, the invalid's god _par excellence_, and the attribute of
"saviour" or "redeemer" remains as the one essential attribute of
divinity--just _what_ is the significance of such a metamorphosis?
what does such a _reduction_ of the godhead imply?--To be
sure, the "kingdom of God" has thus grown larger. Formerly he had only
his own people, his "chosen" people. But since then he has gone
wandering, like his people themselves, into foreign parts; he has given
up settling down quietly anywhere; finally he has come to feel at home
everywhere, and is the great cosmopolitan--until now he has the "great
majority" on his side, and half the earth. But this god of the "great
majority," this democrat among gods, has not become a proud heathen god:
on the contrary, he remains a Jew, he remains a god in a corner, a god
of all the dark nooks and crevices, of all the noisesome quarters of the
world!... His earthly kingdom, now as always, is a kingdom of the
underworld, a _souterrain_ kingdom, a ghetto kingdom.... And he himself
is so pale, so weak, so _decadent_.... Even the palest of the pale are
able to master him--messieurs the metaphysicians, those albinos of the
intellect. They spun their webs around him for so long that finally he
was hypnotized, and began to spin himself, and became another
metaphysician. Thereafter he resumed once more his old business of
spinning the world out of his inmost being _sub specie Spinozae_;
thereafter he became ever thinner and paler--became the "ideal," became
"pure spirit," became "the absolute," became "the thing-in-itself."...
_The collapse of a god_: he became a "thing-in-itself."


The Christian concept of a god--the god as the patron of the sick, the
god as a spinner of cobwebs, the god as a spirit--is one of the most
corrupt concepts that has ever been set up in the world: it probably
touches low-water mark in the ebbing evolution of the god-type. God
degenerated into the _contradiction of life_. Instead of being its
transfiguration and eternal Yea! In him war is declared on life, on
nature, on the will to live! God becomes the formula for every slander
upon the "here and now," and for every lie about the "beyond"! In him
nothingness is deified, and the will to nothingness is made holy!...


The fact that the strong races of northern Europe did not repudiate this
Christian god does little credit to their gift for religion--and not
much more to their taste. They ought to have been able to make an end of
such a moribund and worn-out product of the _decadence_. A curse lies
upon them because they were not equal to it; they made illness,
decrepitude and contradiction a part of their instincts--and since then
they have not managed to _create_ any more gods. Two thousand years have
come and gone--and not a single new god! Instead, there still exists,
and as if by some intrinsic right,--as if he were the _ultimatum_ and
_maximum_ of the power to create gods, of the _creator spiritus_ in
mankind--this pitiful god of Christian monotono-theism! This hybrid
image of decay, conjured up out of emptiness, contradiction and vain
imagining, in which all the instincts of _decadence_, all the cowardices
and wearinesses of the soul find their sanction!--


In my condemnation of Christianity I surely hope I do no injustice to a
related religion with an even larger number of believers: I allude to
_Buddhism_. Both are to be reckoned among the nihilistic religions--they
are both _decadence_ religions--but they are separated from each other
in a very remarkable way. For the fact that he is able to _compare_ them
at all the critic of Christianity is indebted to the scholars of
India.--Buddhism is a hundred times as realistic as Christianity--it is
part of its living heritage that it is able to face problems objectively
and coolly; it is the product of long centuries of philosophical
speculation. The concept, "god," was already disposed of before it
appeared. Buddhism is the only genuinely _positive_ religion to be
encountered in history, and this applies even to its epistemology (which
is a strict phenomenalism). It does not speak of a "struggle with sin,"
but, yielding to reality, of the "struggle with suffering." Sharply
differentiating itself from Christianity, it puts the self-deception
that lies in moral concepts behind it; it is, in my phrase, _beyond_
good and evil.--The two physiological facts upon which it grounds itself
and upon which it bestows its chief attention are: first, an excessive
sensitiveness to sensation, which manifests itself as a refined
susceptibility to pain, and _secondly_, an extraordinary spirituality, a
too protracted concern with concepts and logical procedures, under the
influence of which the instinct of personality has yielded to a notion
of the "impersonal." (--Both of these states will be familiar to a few
of my readers, the objectivists, by experience, as they are to me).
These physiological states produced a _depression_, and Buddha tried to
combat it by hygienic measures. Against it he prescribed a life in the
open, a life of travel; moderation in eating and a careful selection of
foods; caution in the use of intoxicants; the same caution in arousing
any of the passions that foster a bilious habit and heat the blood;
finally, no _worry_, either on one's own account or on account of
others. He encourages ideas that make for either quiet contentment or
good cheer--he finds means to combat ideas of other sorts. He
understands good, the state of goodness, as something which promotes
health. _Prayer_ is not included, and neither is _asceticism_. There is
no categorical imperative nor any disciplines, even within the walls of
a monastery (--it is always possible to leave--). These things would
have been simply means of increasing the excessive sensitiveness above
mentioned. For the same reason he does not advocate any conflict with
unbelievers; his teaching is antagonistic to nothing so much as to
revenge, aversion, _ressentiment_ (--"enmity never brings an end to
enmity": the moving refrain of all Buddhism....) And in all this he was
right, for it is precisely these passions which, in view of his main
regiminal purpose, are _unhealthful_. The mental fatigue that he
observes, already plainly displayed in too much "objectivity" (that is,
in the individual's loss of interest in himself, in loss of balance and
of "egoism"), he combats by strong efforts to lead even the spiritual
interests back to the _ego_. In Buddha's teaching egoism is a duty. The
"one thing needful," the question "how can you be delivered from
suffering," regulates and determines the whole spiritual diet.
(--Perhaps one will here recall that Athenian who also declared war upon
pure "scientificality," to wit, Socrates, who also elevated egoism to
the estate of a morality).


The things necessary to Buddhism are a very mild climate, customs of
great gentleness and liberality, and _no_ militarism; moreover, it must
get its start among the higher and better educated classes.
Cheerfulness, quiet and the absence of desire are the chief desiderata,
and they are _attained_. Buddhism is not a religion in which perfection
is merely an object of aspiration: perfection is actually normal.--

Under Christianity the instincts of the subjugated and the oppressed
come to the fore: it is only those who are at the bottom who seek their
salvation in it. Here the prevailing pastime, the favourite remedy for
boredom is the discussion of sin, self-criticism, the inquisition of
conscience; here the emotion produced by _power_ (called "God") is
pumped up (by prayer); here the highest good is regarded as
unattainable, as a gift, as "grace." Here, too, open dealing is lacking;
concealment and the darkened room are Christian. Here body is despised
and hygiene is denounced as sensual; the church even ranges itself
against cleanliness (--the first Christian order after the banishment of
the Moors closed the public baths, of which there were 270 in Cordova
alone). Christian, too, is a certain cruelty toward one's self and
toward others; hatred of unbelievers; the will to persecute. Sombre and
disquieting ideas are in the foreground; the most esteemed states of
mind, bearing the most respectable names, are epileptoid; the diet is so
regulated as to engender morbid symptoms and over-stimulate the nerves.
Christian, again, is all deadly enmity to the rulers of the earth, to
the "aristocratic"--along with a sort of secret rivalry with them (--one
resigns one's "body" to them; one wants _only_ one's "soul"...). And
Christian is all hatred of the intellect, of pride, of courage, of
freedom, of intellectual _libertinage_; Christian is all hatred of the
senses, of joy in the senses, of joy in general....


When Christianity departed from its native soil, that of the lowest
orders, the _underworld_ of the ancient world, and began seeking power
among barbarian peoples, it no longer had to deal with _exhausted_ men,
but with men still inwardly savage and capable of self-torture--in
brief, strong men, but bungled men. Here, unlike in the case of the
Buddhists, the cause of discontent with self, suffering through self, is
_not_ merely a general sensitiveness and susceptibility to pain, but, on
the contrary, an inordinate thirst for inflicting pain on others, a
tendency to obtain subjective satisfaction in hostile deeds and ideas.
Christianity had to embrace _barbaric_ concepts and valuations in order
to obtain mastery over barbarians: of such sort, for example, are the
sacrifices of the first-born, the drinking of blood as a sacrament, the
disdain of the intellect and of culture; torture in all its forms,
whether bodily or not; the whole pomp of the cult. Buddhism is a
religion for peoples in a further state of development, for races that
have become kind, gentle and over-spiritualized (--Europe is not yet
ripe for it--): it is a summons that takes them back to peace and
cheerfulness, to a careful rationing of the spirit, to a certain
hardening of the body. Christianity aims at mastering _beasts of prey_;
its modus operandi is to make them _ill_--to make feeble is the
Christian recipe for taming, for "_civilizing_." Buddhism is a religion
for the closing, over-wearied stages of civilization. Christianity
appears before civilization has so much as begun--under certain
circumstances it lays the very foundations thereof.


Buddhism, I repeat, is a hundred times more austere, more honest, more
objective. It no longer has to _justify_ its pains, its susceptibility
to suffering, by interpreting these things in terms of sin--it simply
says, as it simply thinks, "I suffer." To the barbarian, however,
suffering in itself is scarcely understandable: what he needs, first of
all, is an explanation as to _why_ he suffers. (His mere instinct
prompts him to deny his suffering altogether, or to endure it in
silence.) Here the word "devil" was a blessing: man had to have an
omnipotent and terrible enemy--there was no need to be ashamed of
suffering at the hands of such an enemy.--

At the bottom of Christianity there are several subtleties that belong
to the Orient. In the first place, it knows that it is of very little
consequence whether a thing be true or not, so long as it is _believed_
to be true. Truth and _faith_: here we have two wholly distinct worlds
of ideas, almost two diametrically _opposite_ worlds--the road to the
one and the road to the other lie miles apart. To understand that fact
thoroughly--this is almost enough, in the Orient, to _make_ one a sage.
The Brahmins knew it, Plato knew it, every student of the esoteric knows
it. When, for example, a man gets any _pleasure_ out of the notion that
he has been saved from sin, it is _not_ necessary for him to be actually
sinful, but merely to _feel_ sinful. But when _faith_ is thus exalted
above everything else, it necessarily follows that reason, knowledge and
patient inquiry have to be discredited: the road to the truth becomes a
forbidden road.--Hope, in its stronger forms, is a great deal more
powerful _stimulans_ to life than any sort of realized joy can ever be.
Man must be sustained in suffering by a hope so high that no conflict
with actuality can dash it--so high, indeed, that no fulfilment can
_satisfy_ it: a hope reaching out beyond this world. (Precisely because
of this power that hope has of making the suffering hold out, the Greeks
regarded it as the evil of evils, as the most _malign_ of evils; it
remained behind at the source of all evil.)[3]--In order that _love_ may
be possible, God must become a person; in order that the lower instincts
may take a hand in the matter God must be young. To satisfy the ardor of
the woman a beautiful saint must appear on the scene, and to satisfy
that of the men there must be a virgin. These things are necessary if
Christianity is to assume lordship over a soil on which some
aphrodisiacal or Adonis cult has already established a notion as to what
a cult ought to be. To insist upon _chastity_ greatly strengthens the
vehemence and subjectivity of the religious instinct--it makes the cult
warmer, more enthusiastic, more soulful.--Love is the state in which man
sees things most decidedly as they are _not_. The force of illusion
reaches its highest here, and so does the capacity for sweetening, for
_transfiguring_. When a man is in love he endures more than at any other
time; he submits to anything. The problem was to devise a religion which
would allow one to love: by this means the worst that life has to offer
is overcome--it is scarcely even noticed.--So much for the three
Christian virtues: faith, hope and charity: I call them the three
Christian _ingenuities_.--Buddhism is in too late a stage of
development, too full of positivism, to be shrewd in any such way.--

[3] That is, in Pandora's box.


Here I barely touch upon the problem of the _origin_ of Christianity.
The _first_ thing necessary to its solution is this: that Christianity
is to be understood only by examining the soil from which it sprung--it
is _not_ a reaction against Jewish instincts; it is their inevitable
product; it is simply one more step in the awe-inspiring logic of the
Jews. In the words of the Saviour, "salvation is of the Jews."[4]--The
_second_ thing to remember is this: that the psychological type of the
Galilean is still to be recognized, but it was only in its most
degenerate form (which is at once maimed and overladen with foreign
features) that it could serve in the manner in which it has been used:
as a type of the _Saviour_ of mankind.--

[4] John iv, 22.

The Jews are the most remarkable people in the history of the world, for
when they were confronted with the question, to be or not to be, they
chose, with perfectly unearthly deliberation, to be _at any price_: this
price involved a radical _falsification_ of all nature, of all
naturalness, of all reality, of the whole inner world, as well as of
the outer. They put themselves _against_ all those conditions under
which, hitherto, a people had been able to live, or had even been
_permitted_ to live; out of themselves they evolved an idea which stood
in direct opposition to _natural_ conditions--one by one they distorted
religion, civilization, morality, history and psychology until each
became a _contradiction_ of its _natural significance_. We meet with the
same phenomenon later on, in an incalculably exaggerated form, but only
as a copy: the Christian church, put beside the "people of God," shows a
complete lack of any claim to originality. Precisely for this reason the
Jews are the most _fateful_ people in the history of the world: their
influence has so falsified the reasoning of mankind in this matter that
today the Christian can cherish anti-Semitism without realizing that it
is no more than the _final consequence of Judaism_.

In my "Genealogy of Morals" I give the first psychological explanation
of the concepts underlying those two antithetical things, a _noble_
morality and a _ressentiment_ morality, the second of which is a mere
product of the denial of the former. The Judaeo-Christian moral system
belongs to the second division, and in every detail. In order to be able
to say Nay to everything representing an _ascending_ evolution of
life--that is, to well-being, to power, to beauty, to self-approval--the
instincts of _ressentiment_, here become downright genius, had to invent
an _other_ world in which the _acceptance of life_ appeared as the most
evil and abominable thing imaginable. Psychologically, the Jews are a
people gifted with the very strongest vitality, so much so that when
they found themselves facing impossible conditions of life they chose
voluntarily, and with a profound talent for self-preservation, the side
of all those instincts which make for _decadence_--_not_ as if mastered
by them, but as if detecting in them a power by which "the world" could
be _defied_. The Jews are the very opposite of _decadents_: they have
simply been forced into _appearing_ in that guise, and with a degree of
skill approaching the _non plus ultra_ of histrionic genius they have
managed to put themselves at the head of all _decadent_ movements (--for
example, the Christianity of Paul--), and so make of them something
stronger than any party frankly saying _Yes_ to life. To the sort of
men who reach out for power under Judaism and Christianity,--that is to
say, to the _priestly_ class--_decadence_ is no more than a means to an
end. Men of this sort have a vital interest in making mankind sick, and
in confusing the values of "good" and "bad," "true" and "false" in a
manner that is not only dangerous to life, but also slanders it.


The history of Israel is invaluable as a typical history of an attempt
to _denaturize_ all natural values: I point to five facts which bear
this out. Originally, and above all in the time of the monarchy, Israel
maintained the _right_ attitude of things, which is to say, the natural
attitude. Its Jahveh was an expression of its consciousness of power,
its joy in itself, its hopes for itself: to him the Jews looked for
victory and salvation and through him they expected nature to give them
whatever was necessary to their existence--above all, rain. Jahveh is
the god of Israel, and _consequently_ the god of justice: this is the
logic of every race that has power in its hands and a good conscience in
the use of it. In the religious ceremonial of the Jews both aspects of
this self-approval stand revealed. The nation is grateful for the high
destiny that has enabled it to obtain dominion; it is grateful for the
benign procession of the seasons, and for the good fortune attending its
herds and its crops.--This view of things remained an ideal for a long
while, even after it had been robbed of validity by tragic blows:
anarchy within and the Assyrian without. But the people still retained,
as a projection of their highest yearnings, that vision of a king who
was at once a gallant warrior and an upright judge--a vision best
visualized in the typical prophet (_i. e._, critic and satirist of the
moment), Isaiah.--But every hope remained unfulfilled. The old god no
longer _could_ do what he used to do. He ought to have been abandoned.
But what actually happened? Simply this: the conception of him was
_changed_--the conception of him was _denaturized_; this was the price
that had to be paid for keeping him.--Jahveh, the god of "justice"--he
is in accord with Israel _no more_, he no longer vizualizes the national
egoism; he is now a god only conditionally.... The public notion of this
god now becomes merely a weapon in the hands of clerical agitators, who
interpret all happiness as a reward and all unhappiness as a punishment
for obedience or disobedience to him, for "sin": that most fraudulent of
all imaginable interpretations, whereby a "moral order of the world" is
set up, and the fundamental concepts, "cause" and "effect," are stood on
their heads. Once natural causation has been swept out of the world by
doctrines of reward and punishment some sort of _un_-natural causation
becomes necessary: and all other varieties of the denial of nature
follow it. A god who _demands_--in place of a god who helps, who gives
counsel, who is at bottom merely a name for every happy inspiration of
courage and self-reliance.... _Morality_ is no longer a reflection of
the conditions which make for the sound life and development of the
people; it is no longer the primary life-instinct; instead it has become
abstract and in opposition to life--a fundamental perversion of the
fancy, an "evil eye" on all things. _What_ is Jewish, _what_ is
Christian morality? Chance robbed of its innocence; unhappiness polluted
with the idea of "sin"; well-being represented as a danger, as a
"temptation"; a physiological disorder produced by the canker worm of


The concept of god falsified; the concept of morality falsified;--but
even here Jewish priest-craft did not stop. The whole history of Israel
ceased to be of any value: out with it!--These priests accomplished that
miracle of falsification of which a great part of the Bible is the
documentary evidence; with a degree of contempt unparalleled, and in the
face of all tradition and all historical reality, they translated the
past of their people into _religious_ terms, which is to say, they
converted it into an idiotic mechanism of salvation, whereby all
offences against Jahveh were punished and all devotion to him was
rewarded. We would regard this act of historical falsification as
something far more shameful if familiarity with the _ecclesiastical_
interpretation of history for thousands of years had not blunted our
inclinations for uprightness _in historicis_. And the philosophers
support the church: the _lie_ about a "moral order of the world" runs
through the whole of philosophy, even the newest. What is the meaning
of a "moral order of the world"? That there is a thing called the will
of God which, once and for all time, determines what man ought to do and
what he ought not to do; that the worth of a people, or of an individual
thereof, is to be measured by the extent to which they or he obey this
will of God; that the destinies of a people or of an individual are
_controlled_ by this will of God, which rewards or punishes according to
the degree of obedience manifested.--In place of all that pitiable lie
_reality_ has this to say: the _priest_, a parasitical variety of man
who can exist only at the cost of every sound view of life, takes the
name of God in vain: he calls that state of human society in which he
himself determines the value of all things "the kingdom of God"; he
calls the means whereby that state of affairs is attained "the will of
God"; with cold-blooded cynicism he estimates all peoples, all ages and
all individuals by the extent of their subservience or opposition to the
power of the priestly order. One observes him at work: under the hand of
the Jewish priesthood the _great_ age of Israel became an age of
decline; the Exile, with its long series of misfortunes, was
transformed into a _punishment_ for that great age--during which priests
had not yet come into existence. Out of the powerful and _wholly free_
heroes of Israel's history they fashioned, according to their changing
needs, either wretched bigots and hypocrites or men entirely "godless."
They reduced every great event to the idiotic formula: "obedient _or_
disobedient to God."--They went a step further: the "will of God" (in
other words some means necessary for preserving the power of the
priests) had to be _determined_--and to this end they had to have a
"revelation." In plain English, a gigantic literary fraud had to be
perpetrated, and "holy scriptures" had to be concocted--and so, with the
utmost hierarchical pomp, and days of penance and much lamentation over
the long days of "sin" now ended, they were duly published. The "will of
God," it appears, had long stood like a rock; the trouble was that
mankind had neglected the "holy scriptures".... But the "will of God"
had already been revealed to Moses.... What happened? Simply this: the
priest had formulated, once and for all time and with the strictest
meticulousness, what tithes were to be paid to him, from the largest to
the smallest (--not forgetting the most appetizing cuts of meat, for
the priest is a great consumer of beefsteaks); in brief, he let it be
known just _what he wanted_, what "the will of God" was.... From this
time forward things were so arranged that the priest became
_indispensable everywhere_; at all the great natural events of life, at
birth, at marriage, in sickness, at death, not to say at the
"_sacrifice_" (that is, at meal-times), the holy parasite put in his
appearance, and proceeded to _denaturize_ it--in his own phrase, to
"sanctify" it.... For this should be noted: that every natural habit,
every natural institution (the state, the administration of justice,
marriage, the care of the sick and of the poor), everything demanded by
the life-instinct, in short, everything that has any value _in itself_,
is reduced to absolute worthlessness and even made the _reverse_ of
valuable by the parasitism of priests (or, if you chose, by the "moral
order of the world"). The fact requires a sanction--a power to _grant
values_ becomes necessary, and the only way it can create such values is
by denying nature.... The priest depreciates and desecrates nature: it
is only at this price that he can exist at all.--Disobedience to God,
which actually means to the priest, to "the law," now gets the name of
"sin"; the means prescribed for "reconciliation with God" are, of
course, precisely the means which bring one most effectively under the
thumb of the priest; he alone can "save".... Psychologically considered,
"sins" are indispensable to every society organized on an ecclesiastical
basis; they are the only reliable weapons of power; the priest _lives_
upon sins; it is necessary to him that there be "sinning".... Prime
axiom: "God forgiveth him that repenteth"--in plain English, _him that
submitteth to the priest_.


Christianity sprang from a soil so corrupt that on it everything
natural, every natural value, every _reality_ was opposed by the deepest
instincts of the ruling class--it grew up as a sort of war to the death
upon reality, and as such it has never been surpassed. The "holy
people," who had adopted priestly values and priestly names for all
things, and who, with a terrible logical consistency, had rejected
everything of the earth as "unholy," "worldly," "sinful"--this people
put its instinct into a final formula that was logical to the point of
self-annihilation: as _Christianity_ it actually denied even the last
form of reality, the "holy people," the "chosen people," _Jewish_
reality itself. The phenomenon is of the first order of importance: the
small insurrectionary movement which took the name of Jesus of Nazareth
is simply the Jewish instinct _redivivus_--in other words, it is the
priestly instinct come to such a pass that it can no longer endure the
priest as a fact; it is the discovery of a state of existence even more
fantastic than any before it, of a vision of life even more _unreal_
than that necessary to an ecclesiastical organization. Christianity
actually _denies_ the church....

I am unable to determine what was the target of the insurrection said to
have been led (whether rightly or _wrongly_) by Jesus, if it was not the
Jewish church--"church" being here used in exactly the same sense that
the word has today. It was an insurrection against the "good and just,"
against the "prophets of Israel," against the whole hierarchy of
society--_not_ against corruption, but against caste, privilege, order,
formalism. It was _unbelief_ in "superior men," a Nay flung at
everything that priests and theologians stood for. But the hierarchy
that was called into question, if only for an instant, by this movement
was the structure of piles which, above everything, was necessary to the
safety of the Jewish people in the midst of the "waters"--it represented
their _last_ possibility of survival; it was the final _residuum_ of
their independent political existence; an attack upon it was an attack
upon the most profound national instinct, the most powerful national
will to live, that has ever appeared on earth. This saintly anarchist,
who aroused the people of the abyss, the outcasts and "sinners," the
Chandala of Judaism, to rise in revolt against the established order of
things--and in language which, if the Gospels are to be credited, would
get him sent to Siberia today--this man was certainly a political
criminal, at least in so far as it was possible to be one in so
_absurdly unpolitical_ a community. This is what brought him to the
cross: the proof thereof is to be found in the inscription that was put
upon the cross. He died for his _own_ sins--there is not the slightest
ground for believing, no matter how often it is asserted, that he died
for the sins of others.--


As to whether he himself was conscious of this contradiction--whether,
in fact, this was the only contradiction he was cognizant of--that is
quite another question. Here, for the first time, I touch upon the
problem of the _psychology of the Saviour_.--I confess, to begin with,
that there are very few books which offer me harder reading than the
Gospels. My difficulties are quite different from those which enabled
the learned curiosity of the German mind to achieve one of its most
unforgettable triumphs. It is a long while since I, like all other young
scholars, enjoyed with all the sapient laboriousness of a fastidious
philologist the work of the incomparable Strauss.[5] At that time I was
twenty years old: now I am too serious for that sort of thing. What do I
care for the contradictions of "tradition"? How can any one call pious
legends "traditions"? The histories of saints present the most dubious
variety of literature in existence; to examine them by the scientific
method, _in the entire absence of corroborative documents_, seems to me
to condemn the whole inquiry from the start--it is simply learned

[5] David Friedrich Strauss (1808-74), author of "Das Leben Jesu"
(1835-6), a very famous work in its day. Nietzsche here refers to it.


What concerns _me_ is the psychological type of the Saviour. This type
might be depicted in the Gospels, in however mutilated a form and
however much overladen with extraneous characters--that is, in _spite_
of the Gospels; just as the figure of Francis of Assisi shows itself in
his legends in spite of his legends. It is _not_ a question of mere
truthful evidence as to what he did, what he said and how he actually
died; the question is, whether his type is still conceivable, whether it
has been handed down to us.--All the attempts that I know of to read the
_history_ of a "soul" in the Gospels seem to me to reveal only a
lamentable psychological levity. M. Renan, that mountebank _in
psychologicus_, has contributed the two most _unseemly_ notions to this
business of explaining the type of Jesus: the notion of the _genius_ and
that of the _hero_ ("_heros_"). But if there is anything essentially
unevangelical, it is surely the concept of the hero. What the Gospels
make instinctive is precisely the reverse of all heroic struggle, of
all taste for conflict: the very incapacity for resistance is here
converted into something moral: ("resist not evil!"--the most profound
sentence in the Gospels, perhaps the true key to them), to wit, the
blessedness of peace, of gentleness, the _inability_ to be an enemy.
What is the meaning of "glad tidings"?--The true life, the life eternal
has been found--it is not merely promised, it is here, it is in _you_;
it is the life that lies in love free from all retreats and exclusions,
from all keeping of distances. Every one is the child of God--Jesus
claims nothing for himself alone--as the child of God each man is the
equal of every other man.... Imagine making Jesus a _hero_!--And what a
tremendous misunderstanding appears in the word "genius"! Our whole
conception of the "spiritual," the whole conception of our civilization,
could have had no meaning in the world that Jesus lived in. In the
strict sense of the physiologist, a quite different word ought to be
used here.... We all know that there is a morbid sensibility of the
tactile nerves which causes those suffering from it to recoil from every
touch, and from every effort to grasp a solid object. Brought to its
logical conclusion, such a physiological _habitus_ becomes an
instinctive hatred of all reality, a flight into the "intangible," into
the "incomprehensible"; a distaste for all formulae, for all conceptions
of time and space, for everything established--customs, institutions,
the church--; a feeling of being at home in a world in which no sort of
reality survives, a merely "inner" world, a "true" world, an "eternal"
world.... "The Kingdom of God is within _you_"....


_The instinctive hatred of reality_: the consequence of an extreme
susceptibility to pain and irritation--so great that merely to be
"touched" becomes unendurable, for every sensation is too profound.

_The instinctive exclusion of all aversion, all hostility, all bounds
and distances in feeling_: the consequence of an extreme susceptibility
to pain and irritation--so great that it senses all resistance, all
compulsion to resistance, as unbearable _anguish_ (--that is to say, as
_harmful_, as _prohibited_ by the instinct of self-preservation), and
regards blessedness (joy) as possible only when it is no longer
necessary to offer resistance to anybody or anything, however evil or
dangerous--love, as the only, as the _ultimate_ possibility of life....

These are the two _physiological realities_ upon and out of which the
doctrine of salvation has sprung. I call them a sublime
super-development of hedonism upon a thoroughly unsalubrious soil. What
stands most closely related to them, though with a large admixture of
Greek vitality and nerve-force, is epicureanism, the theory of salvation
of paganism. Epicurus was a _typical decadent_: I was the first to
recognize him.--The fear of pain, even of infinitely slight pain--the
end of this _can_ be nothing save a _religion of love_....


I have already given my answer to the problem. The prerequisite to it is
the assumption that the type of the Saviour has reached us only in a
greatly distorted form. This distortion is very probable: there are many
reasons why a type of that sort should not be handed down in a pure
form, complete and free of additions. The milieu in which this strange
figure moved must have left marks upon him, and more must have been
imprinted by the history, the _destiny_, of the early Christian
communities; the latter indeed, must have embellished the type
retrospectively with characters which can be understood only as serving
the purposes of war and of propaganda. That strange and sickly world
into which the Gospels lead us--a world apparently out of a Russian
novel, in which the scum of society, nervous maladies and "childish"
idiocy keep a tryst--must, in any case, have _coarsened_ the type: the
first disciples, in particular, must have been forced to translate an
existence visible only in symbols and incomprehensibilities into their
own crudity, in order to understand it at all--in their sight the type
could take on reality only after it had been recast in a familiar
mould.... The prophet, the messiah, the future judge, the teacher of
morals, the worker of wonders, John the Baptist--all these merely
presented chances to misunderstand it.... Finally, let us not underrate
the _proprium_ of all great, and especially all sectarian veneration: it
tends to erase from the venerated objects all its original traits and
idiosyncrasies, often so painfully strange--_it does not even see
them_. It is greatly to be regretted that no Dostoyevsky lived in the
neighbourhood of this most interesting _decadent_--I mean some one who
would have felt the poignant charm of such a compound of the sublime,
the morbid and the childish. In the last analysis, the type, as a type
of the _decadence_, may actually have been peculiarly complex and
contradictory: such a possibility is not to be lost sight of.
Nevertheless, the probabilities seem to be against it, for in that case
tradition would have been particularly accurate and objective, whereas
we have reasons for assuming the contrary. Meanwhile, there is a
contradiction between the peaceful preacher of the mount, the sea-shore
and the fields, who appears like a new Buddha on a soil very unlike
India's, and the aggressive fanatic, the mortal enemy of theologians and
ecclesiastics, who stands glorified by Renan's malice as "_le grand
maitre en ironie_." I myself haven't any doubt that the greater part of
this venom (and no less of _esprit_) got itself into the concept of the
Master only as a result of the excited nature of Christian propaganda:
we all know the unscrupulousness of sectarians when they set out to turn
their leader into an _apologia_ for themselves. When the early
Christians had need of an adroit, contentious, pugnacious and
maliciously subtle theologian to tackle other theologians, they
_created_ a "god" that met that need, just as they put into his mouth
without hesitation certain ideas that were necessary to them but that
were utterly at odds with the Gospels--"the second coming," "the last
judgment," all sorts of expectations and promises, current at the


I can only repeat that I set myself against all efforts to intrude the
fanatic into the figure of the Saviour: the very word _imperieux_, used
by Renan, is alone enough to _annul_ the type. What the "glad tidings"
tell us is simply that there are no more contradictions; the kingdom of
heaven belongs to _children_; the faith that is voiced here is no more
an embattled faith--it is at hand, it has been from the beginning, it is
a sort of recrudescent childishness of the spirit. The physiologists, at
all events, are familiar with such a delayed and incomplete puberty in
the living organism, the result of degeneration. A faith of this sort is
not furious, it does not denounce, it does not defend itself: it does
not come with "the sword"--it does not realize how it will one day set
man against man. It does not manifest itself either by miracles, or by
rewards and promises, or by "scriptures": it is itself, first and last,
its own miracle, its own reward, its own promise, its own "kingdom of
God." This faith does not formulate itself--it simply _lives_, and so
guards itself against formulae. To be sure, the accident of environment,
of educational background gives prominence to concepts of a certain
sort: in primitive Christianity one finds _only_ concepts of a
Judaeo-Semitic character (--that of eating and drinking at the last
supper belongs to this category--an idea which, like everything else
Jewish, has been badly mauled by the church). But let us be careful not
to see in all this anything more than symbolical language, semantics[6]
an opportunity to speak in parables. It is only on the theory that no
work is to be taken literally that this anti-realist is able to speak at
all. Set down among Hindus he would have made use of the concepts of
Sankhya,[7] and among Chinese he would have employed those of
Lao-tse[8]--and in neither case would it have made any difference to
him.--With a little freedom in the use of words, one might actually call
Jesus a "free spirit"[9]--he cares nothing for what is established: the
word _killeth_,[10] whatever is established _killeth_. The idea of
"life" as an _experience_, as he alone conceives it, stands opposed to
his mind to every sort of word, formula, law, belief and dogma. He
speaks only of inner things: "life" or "truth" or "light" is his word
for the innermost--in his sight everything else, the whole of reality,
all nature, even language, has significance only as sign, as
allegory.--Here it is of paramount importance to be led into no error by
the temptations lying in Christian, or rather _ecclesiastical_
prejudices: such a symbolism _par excellence_ stands outside all
religion, all notions of worship, all history, all natural science, all
worldly experience, all knowledge, all politics, all psychology, all
books, all art--his "wisdom" is precisely a _pure ignorance_[11] of all
such things. He has never heard of _culture_; he doesn't have to make
war on it--he doesn't even deny it.... The same thing may be said of the
_state_, of the whole bourgeoise social order, of labour, of war--he has
no ground for denying "the world," for he knows nothing of the
ecclesiastical concept of "the world".... _Denial_ is precisely the
thing that is impossible to him.--In the same way he lacks argumentative
capacity, and has no belief that an article of faith, a "truth," may be
established by proofs (--_his_ proofs are inner "lights," subjective
sensations of happiness and self-approval, simple "proofs of power"--).
Such a doctrine _cannot_ contradict: it doesn't know that other
doctrines exist, or _can_ exist, and is wholly incapable of imagining
anything opposed to it.... If anything of the sort is ever encountered,
it laments the "blindness" with sincere sympathy--for it alone has
"light"--but it does not offer objections....

[6] The word _Semiotik_ is in the text, but it is probable that
_Semantik_ is what Nietzsche had in mind.

[7] One of the six great systems of Hindu philosophy.

[8] The reputed founder of Taoism.

[9] Nietzsche's name for one accepting his own philosophy.

[10] That is, the strict letter of the law--the chief target of Jesus's
early preaching.

[11] A reference to the "pure ignorance" (_reine Thorheit_) of Parsifal.


In the whole psychology of the "Gospels" the concepts of guilt and
punishment are lacking, and so is that of reward. "Sin," which means
anything that puts a distance between God and man, is abolished--_this
is precisely the "glad tidings."_ Eternal bliss is not merely promised,
nor is it bound up with conditions: it is conceived as the _only_
reality--what remains consists merely of signs useful in speaking of it.

The _results_ of such a point of view project themselves into a new _way
of life_, the special evangelical way of life. It is not a "belief" that
marks off the Christian; he is distinguished by a different mode of
action; he acts _differently_. He offers no resistance, either by word
or in his heart, to those who stand against him. He draws no distinction
between strangers and countrymen, Jews and Gentiles ("neighbour," of
course, means fellow-believer, Jew). He is angry with no one, and he
despises no one. He neither appeals to the courts of justice nor heeds
their mandates ("Swear not at all").[12] He never under any
circumstances divorces his wife, even when he has proofs of her
infidelity.--And under all of this is one principle; all of it arises
from one instinct.--

[12] Matthew v, 34.

The life of the Saviour was simply a carrying out of this way of
life--and so was his death.... He no longer needed any formula or ritual
in his relations with God--not even prayer. He had rejected the whole of
the Jewish doctrine of repentance and atonement; he _knew_ that it was
only by a _way_ of life that one could feel one's self "divine,"
"blessed," "evangelical," a "child of God." _Not_ by "repentance," _not_
by "prayer and forgiveness" is the way to God: _only the Gospel way_
leads to God--it is _itself_ "God!"--What the Gospels _abolished_ was
the Judaism in the concepts of "sin," "forgiveness of sin," "faith,"
"salvation through faith"--the whole _ecclesiastical_ dogma of the Jews
was denied by the "glad tidings."

The deep instinct which prompts the Christian how to _live_ so that he
will feel that he is "in heaven" and is "immortal," despite many reasons
for feeling that he is _not_ "in heaven": this is the only psychological
reality in "salvation."--A new way of life, _not_ a new faith....


If I understand anything at all about this great symbolist, it is this:
that he regarded only _subjective_ realities as realities, as
"truths"--that he saw everything else, everything natural, temporal,
spatial and historical, merely as signs, as materials for parables. The
concept of "the Son of God" does not connote a concrete person in
history, an isolated and definite individual, but an "eternal" fact, a
psychological symbol set free from the concept of time. The same thing
is true, and in the highest sense, of the _God_ of this typical
symbolist, of the "kingdom of God," and of the "sonship of God." Nothing
could be more un-Christian than the _crude ecclesiastical_ notions of
God as a _person_, of a "kingdom of God" that is to come, of a "kingdom
of heaven" beyond, and of a "son of God" as the _second person_ of the
Trinity. All this--if I may be forgiven the phrase--is like thrusting
one's fist into the eye (and what an eye!) of the Gospels: a disrespect
for symbols amounting to _world-historical cynicism_.... But it is
nevertheless obvious enough what is meant by the symbols "Father" and
"Son"--not, of course, to every one--: the word "Son" expresses
_entrance_ into the feeling that there is a general transformation of
all things (beatitude), and "Father" expresses _that feeling
itself_--the sensation of eternity and of perfection.--I am ashamed to
remind you of what the church has made of this symbolism: has it not set
an Amphitryon story[13] at the threshold of the Christian "faith"? And a
dogma of "immaculate conception" for good measure?... _And thereby it
has robbed conception of its immaculateness_--

[13] Amphitryon was the son of Alcaeus, King of Tiryns.
His wife was Alcmene. During his absence she was visited by Zeus, and
bore Heracles.

The "kingdom of heaven" is a state of the heart--not something to come
"beyond the world" or "after death." The whole idea of natural death is
_absent_ from the Gospels: death is not a bridge, not a passing; it is
absent because it belongs to a quite different, a merely apparent world,
useful only as a symbol. The "hour of death" is _not_ a Christian
idea--"hours," time, the physical life and its crises have no existence
for the bearer of "glad tidings."... The "kingdom of God" is not
something that men wait for: it had no yesterday and no day after
tomorrow, it is not going to come at a "millennium"--it is an experience
of the heart, it is everywhere and it is nowhere....


This "bearer of glad tidings" died as he lived and _taught_--_not_ to
"save mankind," but to show mankind how to live. It was a _way of life_
that he bequeathed to man: his demeanour before the judges, before the
officers, before his accusers--his demeanour on the _cross_. He does not
resist; he does not defend his rights; he makes no effort to ward off
the most extreme penalty--more, _he invites it_.... And he prays,
suffers and loves _with_ those, _in_ those, who do him evil.... _Not_ to
defend one's self, _not_ to show anger, _not_ to lay blames.... On the
contrary, to submit even to the Evil One--to _love_ him....


--We free spirits--we are the first to have the necessary prerequisite
to understanding what nineteen centuries have misunderstood--that
instinct and passion for integrity which makes war upon the "holy lie"
even more than upon all other lies.... Mankind was unspeakably far from
our benevolent and cautious neutrality, from that discipline of the
spirit which alone makes possible the solution of such strange and
subtle things: what men always sought, with shameless egoism, was their
_own_ advantage therein; they created the _church_ out of denial of the

Whoever sought for signs of an ironical divinity's hand in the great
drama of existence would find no small indication thereof in the
_stupendous question-mark_ that is called Christianity. That mankind
should be on its knees before the very antithesis of what was the
origin, the meaning and the _law_ of the Gospels--that in the concept of
the "church" the very things should be pronounced holy that the "bearer
of glad tidings" regards as _beneath_ him and _behind_ him--it would be
impossible to surpass this as a grand example of _world-historical


--Our age is proud of its historical sense: how, then, could it delude
itself into believing that the _crude fable of the wonder-worker and
Saviour_ constituted the beginnings of Christianity--and that everything
spiritual and symbolical in it only came later? Quite to the contrary,
the whole history of Christianity--from the death on the cross
onward--is the history of a progressively clumsier misunderstanding of
an _original_ symbolism. With every extension of Christianity among
larger and ruder masses, even less capable of grasping the principles
that gave birth to it, the need arose to make it more and more _vulgar_
and _barbarous_--it absorbed the teachings and rites of all the
_subterranean_ cults of the _imperium Romanum_, and the absurdities
engendered by all sorts of sickly reasoning. It was the fate of
Christianity that its faith had to become as sickly, as low and as
vulgar as the needs were sickly, low and vulgar to which it had to
administer. A _sickly barbarism_ finally lifts itself to power as the
church--the church, that incarnation of deadly hostility to all honesty,
to all loftiness of soul, to all discipline of the spirit, to all
spontaneous and kindly humanity.--_Christian_ values--_noble_ values: it
is only we, we _free_ spirits, who have re-established this greatest of
all antitheses in values!...


--I cannot, at this place, avoid a sigh. There are days when I am
visited by a feeling blacker than the blackest melancholy--_contempt of
man_. Let me leave no doubt as to _what_ I despise, _whom_ I despise:
it is the man of today, the man with whom I am unhappily
contemporaneous. The man of today--I am suffocated by his foul
breath!... Toward the past, like all who understand, I am full of
tolerance, which is to say, _generous_ self-control: with gloomy caution
I pass through whole millenniums of this madhouse of a world, call it
"Christianity," "Christian faith" or the "Christian church," as you
will--I take care not to hold mankind responsible for its lunacies. But
my feeling changes and breaks out irresistibly the moment I enter modern
times, _our_ times. Our age _knows better_.... What was formerly merely
sickly now becomes indecent--it is indecent to be a Christian today.
_And here my disgust begins._--I look about me: not a word survives of
what was once called "truth"; we can no longer bear to hear a priest
pronounce the word. Even a man who makes the most modest pretensions to
integrity _must_ know that a theologian, a priest, a pope of today not
only errs when he speaks, but actually _lies_--and that he no longer
escapes blame for his lie through "innocence" or "ignorance." The priest
knows, as every one knows, that there is no longer any "God," or any
"sinner," or any "Saviour"--that "free will" and the "moral order of the
world" are lies--: serious reflection, the profound self-conquest of the
spirit, _allow_ no man to pretend that he does _not_ know it.... _All_
the ideas of the church are now recognized for what they are--as the
worst counterfeits in existence, invented to debase nature and all
natural values; the priest himself is seen as he actually is--as the
most dangerous form of parasite, as the venomous spider of creation....
We know, our _conscience_ now knows--just _what_ the real value of all
those sinister inventions of priest and church has been and _what ends
they have served_, with their debasement of humanity to a state of
self-pollution, the very sight of which excites loathing,--the concepts
"the other world," "the last judgment," "the immortality of the soul,"
the "soul" itself: they are all merely so many instruments of torture,
systems of cruelty, whereby the priest becomes master and remains
master.... Every one knows this, _but nevertheless things remain as
before_. What has become of the last trace of decent feeling, of
self-respect, when our statesmen, otherwise an unconventional class of
men and thoroughly anti-Christian in their acts, now call themselves
Christians and go to the communion-table?... A prince at the head of his
armies, magnificent as the expression of the egoism and arrogance of his
people--and yet acknowledging, _without_ any shame, that he is a
Christian!... Whom, then, does Christianity deny? _what_ does it call
"the world"? To be a _soldier_, to be a judge, to be a patriot; to
defend one's self; to be careful of one's honour; to desire one's own
advantage; to be _proud_ ... every act of everyday, every instinct,
every valuation that shows itself in a _deed_, is now anti-Christian:
what a _monster of falsehood_ the modern man must be to call himself
nevertheless, and _without_ shame, a Christian!--


--I shall go back a bit, and tell you the _authentic_ history of
Christianity.--The very word "Christianity" is a misunderstanding--at
bottom there was only one Christian, and he died on the cross. The
"Gospels" _died_ on the cross. What, from that moment onward, was called
the "Gospels" was the very reverse of what _he_ had lived: "bad
tidings," a _Dysangelium_.[14] It is an error amounting to
nonsensicality to see in "faith," and particularly in faith in salvation
through Christ, the distinguishing mark of the Christian: only the
Christian _way of life_, the life _lived_ by him who died on the cross,
is Christian.... To this day _such_ a life is still possible, and for
_certain_ men even necessary: genuine, primitive Christianity will
remain possible in all ages.... _Not_ faith, but acts; above all, an
_avoidance_ of acts, a different _state of being_.... States of
consciousness, faith of a sort, the acceptance, for example, of anything
as true--as every psychologist knows, the value of these things is
perfectly indifferent and fifth-rate compared to that of the instincts:
strictly speaking, the whole concept of intellectual causality is false.
To reduce being a Christian, the state of Christianity, to an acceptance
of truth, to a mere phenomenon of consciousness, is to formulate the
negation of Christianity. _In fact, there are no Christians._ The
"Christian"--he who for two thousand years has passed as a Christian--is
simply a psychological self-delusion. Closely examined, it appears
that, _despite_ all his "faith," he has been ruled _only_ by his
instincts--and _what instincts_!--In all ages--for example, in the case
of Luther--"faith" has been no more than a cloak, a pretense, a _curtain_
behind which the instincts have played their game--a shrewd _blindness_
to the domination of _certain_ of the instincts.... I have already
called "faith" the specially Christian form of _shrewdness_--people
always _talk_ of their "faith" and _act_ according to their
instincts.... In the world of ideas of the Christian there is nothing
that so much as touches reality: on the contrary, one recognizes
an instinctive _hatred_ of reality as the motive power, the only motive
power at the bottom of Christianity. What follows therefrom? That even
here, in _psychologicis_, there is a radical error, which is to say one
conditioning fundamentals, which is to say, one in _substance_. Take
away one idea and put a genuine reality in its place--and the whole of
Christianity crumbles to nothingness!--Viewed calmly, this strangest of
all phenomena, a religion not only depending on errors, but inventive
and ingenious _only_ in devising injurious errors, poisonous to life
and to the heart--this remains a _spectacle for the gods_--for those
gods who are also philosophers, and whom I have encountered, for
example, in the celebrated dialogues at Naxos. At the moment when their
_disgust_ leaves them (--and us!) they will be thankful for the
spectacle afforded by the Christians: perhaps because of _this_ curious
exhibition alone the wretched little planet called the earth deserves a
glance from omnipotence, a show of divine interest.... Therefore, let us
not underestimate the Christians: the Christian, false _to the point of
innocence_, is far above the ape--in its application to the Christians a
well-known theory of descent becomes a mere piece of politeness....

[14] So in the text. One of Nietzsche's numerous coinages, obviously
suggested by _Evangelium_, the German for _gospel_.


--The fate of the Gospels was decided by death--it hung on the "cross."...
It was only death, that unexpected and shameful death; it was only
the cross, which was usually reserved for the canaille only--it was only
this appalling paradox which brought the disciples face to face with the
real riddle: "_Who was it? what was it_?"--The feeling of dismay, of
profound affront and injury; the suspicion that such a death might
involve a _refutation_ of their cause; the terrible question, "Why just
in this way?"--this state of mind is only too easy to understand. Here
everything _must_ be accounted for as necessary; everything must have a
meaning, a reason, the highest sort of reason; the love of a disciple
excludes all chance. Only then did the chasm of doubt yawn: "_Who_ put
him to death? who was his natural enemy?"--this question flashed like a
lightning-stroke. Answer: dominant Judaism, its ruling class. From that
moment, one found one's self in revolt _against_ the established order,
and began to understand Jesus as _in revolt against the established
order_. Until then this militant, this nay-saying, nay-doing element in
his character had been lacking; what is more, he had appeared to present
its opposite. Obviously, the little community had _not_ understood what
was precisely the most important thing of all: the example offered by
this way of dying, the freedom from and superiority to every feeling of
_ressentiment_--a plain indication of how little he was understood at
all! All that Jesus could hope to accomplish by his death, in itself,
was to offer the strongest possible proof, or _example_, of his
teachings in the most public manner.... But his disciples were very far
from _forgiving_ his death--though to have done so would have accorded
with the Gospels in the highest degree; and neither were they prepared
to _offer_ themselves, with gentle and serene calmness of heart, for a
similar death.... On the contrary, it was precisely the most
unevangelical of feelings, _revenge_, that now possessed them. It seemed
impossible that the cause should perish with his death: "recompense" and
"judgment" became necessary (--yet what could be less evangelical than
"recompense," "punishment," and "sitting in judgment"!). Once more the
popular belief in the coming of a messiah appeared in the foreground;
attention was rivetted upon an historical moment: the "kingdom of God"
is to come, with judgment upon his enemies.... But in all this there was
a wholesale misunderstanding: imagine the "kingdom of God" as a last
act, as a mere promise! The Gospels had been, in fact, the incarnation,
the fulfilment, the _realization_ of this "kingdom of God." It was only
now that all the familiar contempt for and bitterness against Pharisees
and theologians began to appear in the character of the Master--he was
thereby _turned_ into a Pharisee and theologian himself! On the other
hand, the savage veneration of these completely unbalanced souls could
no longer endure the Gospel doctrine, taught by Jesus, of the equal
right of all men to be children of God: their revenge took the form of
_elevating_ Jesus in an extravagant fashion, and thus separating him
from themselves: just as, in earlier times, the Jews, to revenge
themselves upon their enemies, separated themselves from their God, and
placed him on a great height. The One God and the Only Son of God: both
were products of _ressentiment_....


--And from that time onward an absurd problem offered itself: "how
_could_ God allow it!" To which the deranged reason of the little
community formulated an answer that was terrifying in its absurdity: God
gave his son as a _sacrifice_ for the forgiveness of sins. At once there
was an end of the gospels! Sacrifice for sin, and in its most obnoxious
and barbarous form: sacrifice of the _innocent_ for the sins of the
guilty! What appalling paganism!--Jesus himself had done away with the
very concept of "guilt," he denied that there was any gulf fixed between
God and man; he _lived_ this unity between God and man, and that was
precisely _his_ "glad tidings".... And _not_ as a mere privilege!--From
this time forward the type of the Saviour was corrupted, bit by bit, by
the doctrine of judgment and of the second coming, the doctrine of death
as a sacrifice, the doctrine of the _resurrection_, by means of which
the entire concept of "blessedness," the whole and only reality of the
gospels, is juggled away--in favour of a state of existence _after_
death!... St. Paul, with that rabbinical impudence which shows itself in
all his doings, gave a logical quality to that conception, that
_indecent_ conception, in this way: "_If_ Christ did not rise from the
dead, then all our faith is in vain!"--And at once there sprang from the
Gospels the most contemptible of all unfulfillable promises, the
_shameless_ doctrine of personal immortality.... Paul even preached it
as a _reward_....


One now begins to see just _what_ it was that came to an end with the
death on the cross: a new and thoroughly original effort to found a
Buddhistic peace movement, and so establish _happiness on earth_--real,
_not_ merely promised. For this remains--as I have already pointed
out--the essential difference between the two religions of _decadence_:
Buddhism promises nothing, but actually fulfils; Christianity promises
everything, but _fulfils nothing_.--Hard upon the heels of the "glad
tidings" came the worst imaginable: those of Paul. In Paul is incarnated
the very opposite of the "bearer of glad tidings"; he represents the
genius for hatred, the vision of hatred, the relentless logic of hatred.
_What_, indeed, has not this dysangelist sacrificed to hatred! Above
all, the Saviour: he nailed him to _his own_ cross. The life, the
example, the teaching, the death of Christ, the meaning and the law of
the whole gospels--nothing was left of all this after that counterfeiter
in hatred had reduced it to his uses. Surely _not_ reality; surely _not_
historical truth!... Once more the priestly instinct of the Jew
perpetrated the same old master crime against history--he simply struck
out the yesterday and the day before yesterday of Christianity, and
_invented his own history of Christian beginnings_. Going further, he
treated the history of Israel to another falsification, so that it
became a mere prologue to _his_ achievement: all the prophets, it now
appeared, had referred to _his_ "Saviour."... Later on the church even
falsified the history of man in order to make it a prologue to
Christianity.... The figure of the Saviour, his teaching, his way of
life, his death, the meaning of his death, even the consequences of his
death--nothing remained untouched, nothing remained in even remote
contact with reality. Paul simply shifted the centre of gravity of that
whole life to a place _behind_ this existence--in the _lie_ of the
"risen" Jesus. At bottom, he had no use for the life of the
Saviour--what he needed was the death on the cross, _and_ something
more. To see anything honest in such a man as Paul, whose home was at
the centre of the Stoical enlightenment, when he converts an
hallucination into a _proof_ of the resurrection of the Saviour, or even
to believe his tale that he suffered from this hallucination
himself--this would be a genuine _niaiserie_ in a psychologist. Paul
willed the end; _therefore_ he also willed the means.... What he himself
didn't believe was swallowed readily enough by the idiots among whom he
spread _his_ teaching.--What _he_ wanted was power; in Paul the priest
once more reached out for power--he had use only for such concepts,
teachings and symbols as served the purpose of tyrannizing over the
masses and organizing mobs. _What_ was the only part of Christianity
that Mohammed borrowed later on? Paul's invention, his device for
establishing priestly tyranny and organizing the mob: the belief in the
immortality of the soul--_that is to say, the doctrine of


When the centre of gravity of life is placed, _not_ in life itself, but
in "the beyond"--in _nothingness_--then one has taken away its centre of
gravity altogether. The vast lie of personal immortality destroys all
reason, all natural instinct--henceforth, everything in the instincts
that is beneficial, that fosters life and that safeguards the future is
a cause of suspicion. So to live that life no longer has any meaning:
_this_ is now the "meaning" of life.... Why be public-spirited? Why take
any pride in descent and forefathers? Why labour together, trust one
another, or concern one's self about the common welfare, and try to
serve it?... Merely so many "temptations," so many strayings from the
"straight path."--"_One_ thing only is necessary".... That every man,
because he has an "immortal soul," is as good as every other man; that
in an infinite universe of things the "salvation" of _every_ individual
may lay claim to eternal importance; that insignificant bigots and the
three-fourths insane may assume that the laws of nature are constantly
_suspended_ in their behalf--it is impossible to lavish too much
contempt upon such a magnification of every sort of selfishness to
infinity, to _insolence_. And yet Christianity has to thank precisely
_this_ miserable flattery of personal vanity for its _triumph_--it was
thus that it lured all the botched, the dissatisfied, the fallen upon
evil days, the whole refuse and off-scouring of humanity to its side.
The "salvation of the soul"--in plain English: "the world revolves
around _me_."... The poisonous doctrine, "_equal_ rights for all," has
been propagated as a Christian principle: out of the secret nooks and
crannies of bad instinct Christianity has waged a deadly war upon all
feelings of reverence and distance between man and man, which is to
say, upon the first _prerequisite_ to every step upward, to every
development of civilization--out of the _ressentiment_ of the masses it
has forged its chief weapons against _us_, against everything noble,
joyous and high-spirited on earth, against our happiness on earth.... To
allow "immortality" to every Peter and Paul was the greatest, the most
vicious outrage upon _noble_ humanity ever perpetrated.--_And_ let us
not underestimate the fatal influence that Christianity has had, even
upon politics! Nowadays no one has courage any more for special rights,
for the right of dominion, for feelings of honourable pride in himself
and his equals--for the _pathos of distance_.... Our politics is sick
with this lack of courage!--The aristocratic attitude of mind has been
undermined by the lie of the equality of souls; and if belief in the
"privileges of the majority" makes and _will continue to make_
revolutions--it is Christianity, let us not doubt, and _Christian_
valuations, which convert every revolution into a carnival of blood and
crime! Christianity is a revolt of all creatures that creep on the
ground against everything that is _lofty_: the gospel of the "lowly"


--The gospels are invaluable as evidence of the corruption that was
already persistent _within_ the primitive community. That which Paul,
with the cynical logic of a rabbi, later developed to a conclusion was
at bottom merely a process of decay that had begun with the death of the
Saviour.--These gospels cannot be read too carefully; difficulties lurk
behind every word. I confess--I hope it will not be held against
me--that it is precisely for this reason that they offer first-rate joy
to a psychologist--as the _opposite_ of all merely naive corruption, as
refinement _par excellence_, as an artistic triumph in psychological
corruption. The gospels, in fact, stand alone. The Bible as a whole is
not to be compared to them. Here we are among Jews: this is the _first_
thing to be borne in mind if we are not to lose the thread of the
matter. This positive genius for conjuring up a delusion of personal
"holiness" unmatched anywhere else, either in books or by men; this
elevation of fraud in word and attitude to the level of an _art_--all
this is not an accident due to the chance talents of an individual, or
to any violation of nature. The thing responsible is _race_. The whole
of Judaism appears in Christianity as the art of concocting holy lies,
and there, after many centuries of earnest Jewish training and hard
practice of Jewish technic, the business comes to the stage of mastery.
The Christian, that _ultima ratio_ of lying, is the Jew all over
again--he is _threefold_ the Jew.... The underlying will to make use
only of such concepts, symbols and attitudes as fit into priestly
practice, the instinctive repudiation of every _other_ mode of thought,
and every other method of estimating values and utilities--this is not
only tradition, it is _inheritance_: only as an inheritance is it able
to operate with the force of nature. The whole of mankind, even the best
minds of the best ages (with one exception, perhaps hardly human--),
have permitted themselves to be deceived. The gospels have been read as
a _book of innocence_ ... surely no small indication of the high skill
with which the trick has been done.--Of course, if we could actually
_see_ these astounding bigots and bogus saints, even if only for an
instant, the farce would come to an end,--and it is precisely because
_I_ cannot read a word of theirs without seeing their attitudinizing
that _I have made an end of them_.... I simply cannot endure the way
they have of rolling up their eyes.--For the majority, happily enough,
books are mere _literature_.--Let us not be led astray: they say "judge
not," and yet they condemn to hell whoever stands in their way. In
letting God sit in judgment they judge themselves; in glorifying God
they glorify themselves; in _demanding_ that every one show the virtues
which they themselves happen to be capable of--still more, which they
_must_ have in order to remain on top--they assume the grand air of men
struggling for virtue, of men engaging in a war that virtue may prevail.
"We live, we die, we sacrifice ourselves _for the good_" (--"the truth,"
"the light," "the kingdom of God"): in point of fact, they simply do
what they cannot help doing. Forced, like hypocrites, to be sneaky, to
hide in corners, to slink along in the shadows, they convert their
necessity into a _duty_: it is on grounds of duty that they account for
their lives of humility, and that humility becomes merely one more proof
of their piety.... Ah, that humble, chaste, charitable brand of fraud!
"Virtue itself shall bear witness for us."... One may read the gospels
as books of _moral_ seduction: these petty folks fasten themselves to
morality--they know the uses of morality! Morality is the best of all
devices for leading mankind _by the nose_!--The fact is that the
conscious conceit of the chosen here disguises itself as modesty: it is
in this way that _they_, the "community," the "good and just," range
themselves, once and for always, on one side, the side of "the
truth"--and the rest of mankind, "the world," on the other.... In _that_
we observe the most fatal sort of megalomania that the earth has ever
seen: little abortions of bigots and liars began to claim exclusive
rights in the concepts of "God," "the truth," "the light," "the spirit,"
"love," "wisdom" and "life," as if these things were synonyms of
themselves and thereby they sought to fence themselves off from the
"world"; little super-Jews, ripe for some sort of madhouse, turned
values upside down in order to meet _their_ notions, just as if the
Christian were the meaning, the salt, the standard and even the _last
judgment_ of all the rest.... The whole disaster was only made possible
by the fact that there already existed in the world a similar
megalomania, allied to this one in race, to wit, the _Jewish_: once a
chasm began to yawn between Jews and Judaeo-Christians, the latter had
no choice but to employ the self-preservative measures that the Jewish
instinct had devised, even _against_ the Jews themselves, whereas the
Jews had employed them only against non-Jews. The Christian is simply a
Jew of the "reformed" confession.--


--I offer a few examples of the sort of thing these petty people have
got into their heads--what they have _put into the mouth_ of the Master:
the unalloyed creed of "beautiful souls."--

"And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart
thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them.
Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha
in the day of judgment, than for that city" (Mark vi, 11)--How

"And whosoever shall offend one of _these_ little ones that believe in
me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck,
and he were cast into the sea" (Mark ix, 42).--How _evangelical_!...

"And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for
thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes
to be cast into hell fire; Where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not
quenched." (Mark ix, 47.[15])--It is not exactly the eye that is

[15] To which, without mentioning it, Nietzsche adds verse 48.

"Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here,
which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God
come with power." (Mark ix, 1.)--Well _lied_, lion![16]...

[16] A paraphrase of Demetrius' "Well roar'd, Lion!" in act v, scene 1
of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." The lion, of course, is the familiar
Christian symbol for Mark.

"Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his
cross, and follow me. _For_..." (_Note of a psychologist._ Christian
morality is refuted by its _fors_: its reasons are against it,--this
makes it Christian.) Mark viii, 34.--

"Judge not, that ye be not judged. With what measure ye mete, it shall
be measured to you again." (Matthew vii, 1.[17])--What a notion of
justice, of a "just" judge!...

[17] Nietzsche also quotes part of verse 2.

"For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even
the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye
more _than others_? do not even the publicans so?" (Matthew v,
46.[18])--Principle of "Christian love": it insists upon being well
_paid_ in the end....

[18] The quotation also includes verse 47.

"But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father
forgive your trespasses." (Matthew vi, 15.)--Very compromising for the
said "father."...

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all
these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew vi, 33.)--All these
things: namely, food, clothing, all the necessities of life. An _error_,
to put it mildly.... A bit before this God appears as a tailor, at least
in certain cases....

"Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward _is_
great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the
prophets." (Luke vi, 23.)--_Impudent_ rabble! It compares itself to the

"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and _that_ the spirit of God
dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, _him shall God
destroy_; for the temple of God is holy, _which temple ye are_." (Paul,
1 Corinthians iii, 16.[19])--For that sort of thing one cannot have
enough contempt....

[19] And 17.

"Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world
shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?"
(Paul, 1 Corinthians vi, 2.)--Unfortunately, not merely the speech of
a lunatic.... This _frightful impostor_ then proceeds: "Know ye not
that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this

"Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in
the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by
the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.... Not many wise
men after the flesh, not men mighty, not many noble _are called_: But
God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise;
and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things
which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are
despised, hath God chosen, _yea_, and things which are not, to bring to
nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence."
(Paul, 1 Corinthians i, 20ff.[20])--In order to _understand_ this
passage, a first-rate example of the psychology underlying every
Chandala-morality, one should read the first part of my "Genealogy of
Morals": there, for the first time, the antagonism between a _noble_
morality and a morality born of _ressentiment_ and impotent vengefulness
is exhibited. Paul was the greatest of all apostles of revenge....

[20] Verses 20, 21, 26, 27, 28, 29.


--_What follows, then?_ That one had better put on gloves before reading
the New Testament. The presence of so much filth makes it very
advisable. One would as little choose "early Christians" for companions
as Polish Jews: not that one need seek out an objection to them....
Neither has a pleasant smell.--I have searched the New Testament in vain
for a single sympathetic touch; nothing is there that is free, kindly,
open-hearted or upright. In it humanity does not even make the first
step upward--the instinct for _cleanliness_ is lacking.... Only _evil_
instincts are there, and there is not even the courage of these evil
instincts. It is all cowardice; it is all a shutting of the eyes, a
self-deception. Every other book becomes clean, once one has read the
New Testament: for example, immediately after reading Paul I took up
with delight that most charming and wanton of scoffers, Petronius, of
whom one may say what Domenico Boccaccio wrote of Caesar Borgia to the
Duke of Parma: "_e tutto festo_"--immortally healthy, immortally
cheerful and sound.... These petty bigots make a capital miscalculation.
They attack, but everything they attack is thereby _distinguished_.
Whoever is attacked by an "early Christian" is surely _not_ befouled....
On the contrary, it is an honour to have an "early Christian" as an
opponent. One cannot read the New Testament without acquired admiration
for whatever it abuses--not to speak of the "wisdom of this world,"
which an impudent wind-bag tries to dispose of "by the foolishness of
preaching."... Even the scribes and pharisees are benefitted by such
opposition: they must certainly have been worth something to have been
hated in such an indecent manner. Hypocrisy--as if this were a charge
that the "early Christians" _dared_ to make!--After all, they were the
_privileged_, and that was enough: the hatred of the Chandala needed no
other excuse. The "early Christian"--and also, I fear, the "last
Christian," _whom I may perhaps live to see_--is a rebel against all
privilege by profound instinct--he lives and makes war for ever for
"equal rights."... Strictly speaking, he has no alternative. When a man
proposes to represent, in his own person, the "chosen of God"--or to be
a "temple of God," or a "judge of the angels"--then every _other_
criterion, whether based upon honesty, upon intellect, upon manliness
and pride, or upon beauty and freedom of the heart, becomes simply
"worldly"--_evil in itself_.... Moral: every word that comes from the
lips of an "early Christian" is a lie, and his every act is
instinctively dishonest--all his values, all his aims are noxious, but
_whoever_ he hates, _whatever_ he hates, has real _value_.... The
Christian, and particularly the Christian priest, is thus a _criterion
of values_.

--Must I add that, in the whole New Testament, there appears but a
_solitary_ figure worthy of honour? Pilate, the Roman viceroy. To regard
a Jewish imbroglio _seriously_--that was quite beyond him. One Jew more
or less--what did it matter?... The noble scorn of a Roman, before whom
the word "truth" was shamelessly mishandled, enriched the New Testament
with the only saying _that has any value_--and that is at once its
criticism and its _destruction_: "What is truth?..."


--The thing that sets us apart is not that we are unable to find God,
either in history, or in nature, or behind nature--but that we regard
what has been honoured as God, not as "divine," but as pitiable, as
absurd, as injurious; not as a mere error, but as a _crime against
life_.... We deny that God is God.... If any one were to _show_ us this
Christian God, we'd be still less inclined to believe in him.--In a
formula: _deus, qualem Paulus creavit, dei negatio_.--Such a religion as
Christianity, which does not touch reality at a single point and which
goes to pieces the moment reality asserts its rights at any point, must
be inevitably the deadly enemy of the "wisdom of this world," which is
to say, of _science_--and it will give the name of good to whatever
means serve to poison, calumniate and _cry down_ all intellectual
discipline, all lucidity and strictness in matters of intellectual
conscience, and all noble coolness and freedom of the mind. "Faith," as
an imperative, vetoes science--_in praxi_, lying at any price.... Paul
_well knew_ that lying--that "faith"--was necessary; later on the church
borrowed the fact from Paul.--The God that Paul invented for himself, a
God who "reduced to absurdity" "the wisdom of this world" (especially
the two great enemies of superstition, philology and medicine), is in
truth only an indication of Paul's resolute _determination_ to
accomplish that very thing himself: to give one's own will the name of
God, _thora_--that is essentially Jewish. Paul _wants_ to dispose of the
"wisdom of this world": his enemies are the _good_ philologians and
physicians of the Alexandrine school--on them he makes his war. As a
matter of fact no man can be a _philologian_ or a physician without
being also _Antichrist_. That is to say, as a philologian a man sees
_behind_ the "holy books," and as a physician he sees _behind_ the
physiological degeneration of the typical Christian. The physician says
"incurable"; the philologian says "fraud."...


--Has any one ever clearly understood the celebrated story at the
beginning of the Bible--of God's mortal terror of _science_?... No one,
in fact, has understood it. This priest-book _par excellence_ opens, as
is fitting, with the great inner difficulty of the priest: _he_ faces
only one great danger; _ergo_, "God" faces only one great danger.--

The old God, wholly "spirit," wholly the high-priest, wholly perfect, is
promenading his garden: he is bored and trying to kill time. Against
boredom even gods struggle in vain.[21] What does he do? He creates
man--man is entertaining.... But then he notices that man is also bored.
God's pity for the only form of distress that invades all paradises
knows no bounds: so he forthwith creates other animals. God's first
mistake: to man these other animals were not entertaining--he sought
dominion over them; he did not want to be an "animal" himself.--So God
created woman. In the act he brought boredom to an end--and also many
other things! Woman was the _second_ mistake of God.--"Woman, at bottom,
is a serpent, Heva"--every priest knows that; "from woman comes every
evil in the world"--every priest knows that, too. _Ergo_, she is also to
blame for _science_.... It was through woman that man learned to taste
of the tree of knowledge.--What happened? The old God was seized by
mortal terror. Man himself had been his _greatest_ blunder; he had
created a rival to himself; science makes men _godlike_--it is all up
with priests and gods when man becomes scientific!--_Moral_: science is
the forbidden _per se_; it alone is forbidden. Science is the _first_ of
sins, the germ of all sins, the _original_ sin. _This is all there is of
morality._--"Thou shall _not_ know":--the rest follows from that.--God's
mortal terror, however, did not hinder him from being shrewd. How is one
to _protect_ one's self against science? For a long while this was the
capital problem. Answer: Out of paradise with man! Happiness, leisure,
foster thought--and all thoughts are bad thoughts!--Man _must_ not
think.--And so the priest invents distress, death, the mortal dangers of
childbirth, all sorts of misery, old age, decrepitude, above all,
_sickness_--nothing but devices for making war on science! The troubles
of man don't _allow_ him to think.... Nevertheless--how terrible!--, the
edifice of knowledge begins to tower aloft, invading heaven, shadowing
the gods--what is to be done?--The old God invents _war_; he separates
the peoples; he makes men destroy one another (--the priests have always
had need of war....). War--among other things, a great disturber of
science!--Incredible! Knowledge, _deliverance from the priests_,
prospers in spite of war.--So the old God comes to his final resolution:
"Man has become scientific--_there is no help for it: he must be

[21] A paraphrase of Schiller's "Against stupidity even gods struggle in


--I have been understood. At the opening of the Bible there is the
_whole_ psychology of the priest.--The priest knows of only one great
danger: that is science--the sound comprehension of cause and effect.
But science flourishes, on the whole, only under favourable
conditions--a man must have time, he must have an _overflowing_
intellect, in order to "know."... "_Therefore_, man must be made
unhappy,"--this has been, in all ages, the logic of the priest.--It is
easy to see just _what_, by this logic, was the first thing to come into
the world:--"_sin_."... The concept of guilt and punishment, the whole
"moral order of the world," was set up _against_ science--_against_ the
deliverance of man from priests.... Man must _not_ look outward; he must
look inward. He must _not_ look at things shrewdly and cautiously, to
learn about them; he must not look at all; he must _suffer_.... And he
must suffer so much that he is always in need of the priest.--Away with
physicians! _What is needed is a Saviour._--The concept of guilt and
punishment, including the doctrines of "grace," of "salvation," of
"forgiveness"--_lies_ through and through, and absolutely without
psychological reality--were devised to destroy man's _sense of
causality_: they are an attack upon the concept of cause and
effect!--And _not_ an attack with the fist, with the knife, with honesty
in hate and love! On the contrary, one inspired by the most cowardly,
the most crafty, the most ignoble of instincts! An attack of _priests_!
An attack of _parasites_! The vampirism of pale, subterranean
leeches!... When the natural consequences of an act are no longer
"natural," but are regarded as produced by the ghostly creations of
superstition--by "God," by "spirits," by "souls"--and reckoned as merely
"moral" consequences, as rewards, as punishments, as hints, as lessons,
then the whole ground-work of knowledge is destroyed--_then the greatest
of crimes against humanity has been perpetrated_.--I repeat that sin,
man's self-desecration _par excellence_, was invented in order to make
science, culture, and every elevation and ennobling of man impossible;
the priest _rules_ through the invention of sin.--


--In this place I can't permit myself to omit a psychology of "belief,"
of the "believer," for the special benefit of "believers." If there
remain any today who do not yet know how _indecent_ it is to be
"believing"--_or_ how much a sign of _decadence_, of a broken will to
live--then they will know it well enough tomorrow. My voice reaches even
the deaf.--It appears, unless I have been incorrectly informed, that
there prevails among Christians a sort of criterion of truth that is
called "proof by power." "Faith makes blessed: _therefore_ it is
true."--It might be objected right here that blessedness is not
demonstrated, it is merely _promised_: it hangs upon "faith" as a
condition--one _shall_ be blessed _because_ one believes.... But what of
the thing that the priest promises to the believer, the wholly
transcendental "beyond"--how is _that_ to be demonstrated?--The "proof
by power," thus assumed, is actually no more at bottom than a belief
that the effects which faith promises will not fail to appear. In a
formula: "I believe that faith makes for blessedness--_therefore_, it is
true."... But this is as far as we may go. This "therefore" would be
_absurdum_ itself as a criterion of truth.--But let us admit, for the
sake of politeness, that blessedness by faith may be demonstrated
(--_not_ merely hoped for, and _not_ merely promised by the suspicious
lips of a priest): even so, _could_ blessedness--in a technical term,
_pleasure_--ever be a proof of truth? So little is this true that it is
almost a proof against truth when sensations of pleasure influence the
answer to the question "What is true?" or, at all events, it is enough
to make that "truth" highly suspicious. The proof by "pleasure" is a
proof _of_ "pleasure"--nothing more; why in the world should it be
assumed that _true_ judgments give more pleasure than false ones, and
that, in conformity to some pre-established harmony, they necessarily
bring agreeable feelings in their train?--The experience of all
disciplined and profound minds teaches _the contrary_. Man has had to
fight for every atom of the truth, and has had to pay for it almost
everything that the heart, that human love, that human trust cling to.
Greatness of soul is needed for this business: the service of truth is
the hardest of all services.--What, then, is the meaning of _integrity_
in things intellectual? It means that a man must be severe with his own
heart, that he must scorn "beautiful feelings," and that he makes every
Yea and Nay a matter of conscience!--Faith makes blessed: _therefore_,
it lies....


The fact that faith, under certain circumstances, may work for
blessedness, but that this blessedness produced by an _idee fixe_ by no
means makes the idea itself true, and the fact that faith actually moves
no mountains, but instead _raises them up_ where there were none before:
all this is made sufficiently clear by a walk through a _lunatic
asylum_. _Not_, of course, to a priest: for his instincts prompt him to
the lie that sickness is not sickness and lunatic asylums not lunatic
asylums. Christianity finds sickness _necessary_, just as the Greek
spirit had need of a superabundance of health--the actual ulterior
purpose of the whole system of salvation of the church is to _make_
people ill. And the church itself--doesn't it set up a Catholic lunatic
asylum as the ultimate ideal?--The whole earth as a madhouse?--The sort
of religious man that the church _wants_ is a typical _decadent_; the
moment at which a religious crisis dominates a people is always marked
by epidemics of nervous disorder; the "inner world" of the religious man
is so much like the "inner world" of the overstrung and exhausted that
it is difficult to distinguish between them; the "highest" states of
mind, held up before mankind by Christianity as of supreme worth, are
actually epileptoid in form--the church has granted the name of holy
only to lunatics or to gigantic frauds _in majorem dei honorem_.... Once
I ventured to designate the whole Christian system of _training_[22] in
penance and salvation (now best studied in England) as a method of
producing a _folie circulaire_ upon a soil already prepared for it,
which is to say, a soil thoroughly unhealthy. Not every one may be a
Christian: one is not "converted" to Christianity--one must first
be sick enough for it.... We others, who have the _courage_ for health
_and_ likewise for contempt,--we may well despise a religion that
teaches misunderstanding of the body! that refuses to rid itself of the
superstition about the soul! that makes a "virtue" of insufficient
nourishment! that combats health as a sort of enemy, devil, temptation!
that persuades itself that it is possible to carry about a "perfect
soul" in a cadaver of a body, and that, to this end, had to devise for
itself a new concept of "perfection," a pale, sickly, idiotically
ecstatic state of existence, so-called "holiness"--a holiness that is
itself merely a series of symptoms of an impoverished, enervated and
incurably disordered body!... The Christian movement, as a European
movement, was from the start no more than a general uprising of all
sorts of outcast and refuse elements (--who now, under cover of
Christianity, aspire to power). It does _not_ represent the decay of a
race; it represents, on the contrary, a conglomeration of _decadence_
products from all directions, crowding together and seeking one another
out. It was _not_, as has been thought, the corruption of antiquity, of
_noble_ antiquity, which made Christianity possible; one cannot too
sharply challenge the learned imbecility which today maintains that
theory. At the time when the sick and rotten Chandala classes in the
whole _imperium_ were Christianized, the _contrary type_, the nobility,
reached its finest and ripest development. The majority became master;
democracy, with its Christian instincts, _triumphed_.... Christianity
was not "national," it was not based on race--it appealed to all the
varieties of men disinherited by life, it had its allies everywhere.
Christianity has the rancour of the sick at its very core--the instinct
against the _healthy_, against _health_. Everything that is
well-constituted, proud, gallant and, above all, beautiful gives offence
to its ears and eyes. Again I remind you of Paul's priceless saying:
"And God hath chosen the _weak_ things of the world, the _foolish_
things of the world, the _base_ things of the world, and things which
are _despised_":[23] _this_ was the formula; _in hoc signo_ the
_decadence_ triumphed.--_God on the cross_--is man always to miss the
frightful inner significance of this symbol?--Everything that suffers,
everything that hangs on the cross, is _divine_.... We all hang on the
cross, consequently _we_ are divine.... We alone are divine....
Christianity was thus a victory: a nobler attitude of mind was destroyed
by it--Christianity remains to this day the greatest misfortune of

[22] The word _training_ is in English in the text.

[23] 1 Corinthians i, 27, 28.


Christianity also stands in opposition to all _intellectual_
well-being,--sick reasoning is the only sort that it _can_ use as
Christian reasoning; it takes the side of everything that is idiotic; it
pronounces a curse upon "intellect," upon the _superbia_ of the healthy
intellect. Since sickness is inherent in Christianity, it follows that
the typically Christian state of "faith" _must_ be a form of sickness
too, and that all straight, straightforward and scientific paths to
knowledge _must_ be banned by the church as _forbidden_ ways. Doubt is
thus a sin from the start.... The complete lack of psychological
cleanliness in the priest--revealed by a glance at him--is a phenomenon
_resulting_ from _decadence_,--one may observe in hysterical women and
in rachitic children how regularly the falsification of instincts,
delight in lying for the mere sake of lying, and incapacity for looking
straight and walking straight are symptoms of _decadence_. "Faith"
means the will to avoid knowing what is true. The pietist, the priest of
either sex, is a fraud _because_ he is sick: his instinct _demands_ that
the truth shall never be allowed its rights on any point. "Whatever
makes for illness is _good_; whatever issues from abundance, from
superabundance, from power, is _evil_": so argues the believer. The
_impulse to lie_--it is by this that I recognize every foreordained
theologian.--Another characteristic of the theologian is his _unfitness
for philology_. What I here mean by philology is, in a general sense,
the art of reading with profit--the capacity for absorbing facts
_without_ interpreting them falsely, and _without_ losing caution,
patience and subtlety in the effort to understand them. Philology as
_ephexis_[24] in interpretation: whether one be dealing with books, with
newspaper reports, with the most fateful events or with weather
statistics--not to mention the "salvation of the soul."... The way in
which a theologian, whether in Berlin or in Rome, is ready to explain,
say, a "passage of Scripture," or an experience, or a victory by the
national army, by turning upon it the high illumination of the Psalms of
David, is always so _daring_ that it is enough to make a philologian run
up a wall. But what shall he do when pietists and other such cows from
Suabia[25] use the "finger of God" to convert their miserably
commonplace and huggermugger existence into a miracle of "grace," a
"providence" and an "experience of salvation"? The most modest exercise
of the intellect, not to say of decency, should certainly be enough to
convince these interpreters of the perfect childishness and unworthiness
of such a misuse of the divine digital dexterity. However small our
piety, if we ever encountered a god who always cured us of a cold in the
head at just the right time, or got us into our carriage at the very
instant heavy rain began to fall, he would seem so absurd a god that
he'd have to be abolished even if he existed. God as a domestic servant,
as a letter carrier, as an almanac-man--at bottom, he is a mere name for
the stupidest sort of chance.... "Divine Providence," which every third
man in "educated Germany" still believes in, is so strong an argument
against God that it would be impossible to think of a stronger. And in
any case it is an argument against Germans!...

[24] That is, to say, scepticism. Among the Greeks scepticism was also
occasionally called ephecticism.

[25] A reference to the University of Tuebingen and its famous school of
Biblical criticism. The leader of this school was F. C. Baur, and one of
the men greatly influenced by it was Nietzsche's pet abomination, David
F. Strauss, himself a Suabian. _Vide_ Sec. 10 and Sec. 28.


--It is so little true that _martyrs_ offer any support to the truth of
a cause that I am inclined to deny that any martyr has ever had anything
to do with the truth at all. In the very tone in which a martyr flings
what he fancies to be true at the head of the world there appears so low
a grade of intellectual honesty and such _insensibility_ to the problem
of "truth," that it is never necessary to refute him. Truth is not
something that one man has and another man has not: at best, only
peasants, or peasant-apostles like Luther, can think of truth in any
such way. One may rest assured that the greater the degree of a man's
intellectual conscience the greater will be his modesty, his
_discretion_, on this point. To _know_ in five cases, and to refuse,
with delicacy, to know anything _further_.... "Truth," as the word is
understood by every prophet, every sectarian, every free-thinker, every
Socialist and every churchman, is simply a complete proof that not even
a beginning has been made in the intellectual discipline and
self-control that are necessary to the unearthing of even the smallest
truth.--The deaths of the martyrs, it may be said in passing, have been
misfortunes of history: they have _misled_.... The conclusion that all
idiots, women and plebeians come to, that there must be something in a
cause for which any one goes to his death (or which, as under primitive
Christianity, sets off epidemics of death-seeking)--this conclusion has
been an unspeakable drag upon the testing of facts, upon the whole
spirit of inquiry and investigation. The martyrs have _damaged_ the
truth.... Even to this day the crude fact of persecution is enough to
give an honourable name to the most empty sort of sectarianism.--But
why? Is the worth of a cause altered by the fact that some one had laid
down his life for it?--An error that becomes honourable is simply an
error that has acquired one seductive charm the more: do you suppose,
Messrs. Theologians, that we shall give you the chance to be martyred
for your lies?--One best disposes of a cause by respectfully putting it
on ice--that is also the best way to dispose of theologians.... This was
precisely the world-historical stupidity of all the persecutors: that
they gave the appearance of honour to the cause they opposed--that they
made it a present of the fascination of martyrdom.... Women are still on
their knees before an error because they have been told that some one
died on the cross for it. _Is the cross, then, an argument?_--But about
all these things there is one, and one only, who has said what has been
needed for thousands of years--_Zarathustra_.

     They made signs in blood along the way that they went, and their
     folly taught them that the truth is proved by blood.

     But blood is the worst of all testimonies to the truth; blood
     poisoneth even the purest teaching and turneth it into madness and
     hatred in the heart.

     And when one goeth through fire for his teaching--what doth that
     prove? Verily, it is more when one's teaching cometh out of one's
     own burning![26]

[26] The quotations are from "Also sprach Zarathustra" ii, 24: "Of


Do not let yourself be deceived: great intellects are sceptical.
Zarathustra is a sceptic. The strength, the _freedom_ which proceed from
intellectual power, from a superabundance of intellectual power,
_manifest_ themselves as scepticism. Men of fixed convictions do not
count when it comes to determining what is fundamental in values and
lack of values. Men of convictions are prisoners. They do not see far
enough, they do not see what is _below_ them: whereas a man who would
talk to any purpose about value and non-value must be able to see five
hundred convictions _beneath_ him--and _behind_ him.... A mind that
aspires to great things, and that wills the means thereto, is
necessarily sceptical. Freedom from any sort of conviction _belongs_ to
strength, and to an independent point of view.... That grand passion
which is at once the foundation and the power of a sceptic's existence,
and is both more enlightened and more despotic than he is himself,
drafts the whole of his intellect into its service; it makes him
unscrupulous; it gives him courage to employ unholy means; under certain
circumstances it does not _begrudge_ him even convictions. Conviction as
a means: one may achieve a good deal by means of a conviction. A grand
passion makes use of and uses up convictions; it does not yield to
them--it knows itself to be sovereign.--On the contrary, the need of
faith, of something unconditioned by yea or nay, of Carlylism, if I may
be allowed the word, is a need of _weakness_. The man of faith, the
"believer" of any sort, is necessarily a dependent man--such a man
cannot posit _himself_ as a goal, nor can he find goals within himself.
The "believer" does not belong to himself; he can only be a means to an
end; he must be _used up_; he needs some one to use him up. His instinct
gives the highest honours to an ethic of self-effacement; he is prompted
to embrace it by everything: his prudence, his experience, his vanity.
Every sort of faith is in itself an evidence of self-effacement, of
self-estrangement.... When one reflects how necessary it is to the great
majority that there be regulations to restrain them from without and
hold them fast, and to what extent control, or, in a higher sense,
_slavery_, is the one and only condition which makes for the well-being
of the weak-willed man, and especially woman, then one at once
understands conviction and "faith." To the man with convictions they are
his backbone. To _avoid_ seeing many things, to be impartial about
nothing, to be a party man through and through, to estimate all values
strictly and infallibly--these are conditions necessary to the existence
of such a man. But by the same token they are _antagonists_ of the
truthful man--of the truth.... The believer is not free to answer the
question, "true" or "not true," according to the dictates of his own
conscience: integrity on _this_ point would work his instant downfall.
The pathological limitations of his vision turn the man of convictions
into a fanatic--Savonarola, Luther, Rousseau, Robespierre,
Saint-Simon--these types stand in opposition to the strong,
_emancipated_ spirit. But the grandiose attitudes of these _sick_
intellects, these intellectual epileptics, are of influence upon the
great masses--fanatics are picturesque, and mankind prefers observing
poses to listening to _reasons_....


--One step further in the psychology of conviction, of "faith." It is
now a good while since I first proposed for consideration the question
whether convictions are not even more dangerous enemies to truth than
lies. ("Human, All-Too-Human," I, aphorism 483.)[27] This time I desire
to put the question definitely: is there any actual difference between
a lie and a conviction?--All the world believes that there is; but what
is not believed by all the world!--Every conviction has its history, its
primitive forms, its stage of tentativeness and error: it _becomes_ a
conviction only after having been, for a long time, _not_ one, and then,
for an even longer time, _hardly_ one. What if falsehood be also one of
these embryonic forms of conviction?--Sometimes all that is needed is a
change in persons: what was a lie in the father becomes a conviction in
the son.--I call it lying to refuse to see what one sees, or to refuse
to see it _as_ it is: whether the lie be uttered before witnesses or not
before witnesses is of no consequence. The most common sort of lie is
that by which a man deceives himself: the deception of others is a
relatively rare offence.--Now, this will _not_ to see what one sees,
this will _not_ to see it as it is, is almost the first requisite for
all who belong to a party of whatever sort: the party man becomes
inevitably a liar. For example, the German historians are convinced that
Rome was synonymous with despotism and that the Germanic peoples brought
the spirit of liberty into the world: what is the difference between
this conviction and a lie? Is it to be wondered at that all partisans,
including the German historians, instinctively roll the fine phrases of
morality upon their tongues--that morality almost owes its very
_survival_ to the fact that the party man of every sort has need of it
every moment?--"This is _our_ conviction: we publish it to the whole
world; we live and die for it--let us respect all who have
convictions!"--I have actually heard such sentiments from the mouths of
anti-Semites. On the contrary, gentlemen! An anti-Semite surely does not
become more respectable because he lies on principle.... The priests,
who have more finesse in such matters, and who well understand the
objection that lies against the notion of a conviction, which is to say,
of a falsehood that becomes a matter of principle _because_ it serves a
purpose, have borrowed from the Jews the shrewd device of sneaking in
the concepts, "God," "the will of God" and "the revelation of God" at
this place. Kant, too, with his categorical imperative, was on the same
road: this was his _practical_ reason.[28] There are questions regarding
the truth or untruth of which it is _not_ for man to decide; all the
capital questions, all the capital problems of valuation, are beyond
human reason.... To know the limits of reason--_that_ alone is genuine
philosophy.... Why did God make a revelation to man? Would God have done
anything superfluous? Man _could_ not find out for himself what was good
and what was evil, so God taught him His will.... Moral: the priest does
_not_ lie--the question, "true" or "untrue," has nothing to do with such
things as the priest discusses; it is impossible to lie about these
things. In order to lie here it would be necessary to know _what_ is
true. But this is more than man _can_ know; therefore, the priest is
simply the mouthpiece of God.--Such a priestly syllogism
is by no means merely Jewish and Christian; the right to lie and the
_shrewd dodge_ of "revelation" belong to the general priestly type--to
the priest of the _decadence_ as well as to the priest of pagan times
(--Pagans are all those who say yes to life, and to whom "God" is a word
signifying acquiescence in all things).--The "law," the "will of God,"
the "holy book," and "inspiration"--all these things are merely words
for the conditions _under_ which the priest comes to power and _with_
which he maintains his power,--these concepts are to be found at the
bottom of all priestly organizations, and of all priestly or
priestly-philosophical schemes of governments. The "holy lie"--common
alike to Confucius, to the Code of Manu, to Mohammed and to the
Christian church--is not even wanting in Plato. "Truth is here": this
means, no matter where it is heard, _the priest lies_....

[27] The aphorism, which is headed "The Enemies of Truth," makes the
direct statement: "Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than

[28] A reference, of course, to Kant's "Kritik der praktischen Vernunft"
(Critique of Practical Reason).


--In the last analysis it comes to this: what is the _end_ of lying? The
fact that, in Christianity, "holy" ends are not visible is _my_
objection to the means it employs. Only _bad_ ends appear: the
poisoning, the calumniation, the denial of life, the despising of the
body, the degradation and self-contamination of man by the concept of
sin--_therefore_, its means are also bad.--I have a contrary feeling
when I read the Code of Manu, an incomparably more intellectual and
superior work, which it would be a sin against the _intelligence_ to so
much as _name_ in the same breath with the Bible. It is easy to see why:
there is a genuine philosophy behind it, _in_ it, not merely an
evil-smelling mess of Jewish rabbinism and superstition,--it gives even
the most fastidious psychologist something to sink his teeth into. And,
_not_ to forget what is most important, it differs fundamentally from
every kind of Bible: by means of it the _nobles_, the philosophers and
the warriors keep the whip-hand over the majority; it is full of noble
valuations, it shows a feeling of perfection, an acceptance of life, and
triumphant feeling toward self and life--the _sun_ shines upon the whole
book.--All the things on which Christianity vents its fathomless
vulgarity--for example, procreation, women and marriage--are here
handled earnestly, with reverence and with love and confidence. How can
any one really put into the hands of children and ladies a book which
contains such vile things as this: "to avoid fornication, let every man
have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband; ... it is
better to marry than to burn"?[29] And is it _possible_ to be a
Christian so long as the origin of man is Christianized, which is to
say, _befouled_, by the doctrine of the _immaculata conceptio_?... I
know of no book in which so many delicate and kindly things are said of
women as in the Code of Manu; these old grey-beards and saints have a
way of being gallant to women that it would be impossible, perhaps, to
surpass. "The mouth of a woman," it says in one place, "the breasts of a
maiden, the prayer of a child and the smoke of sacrifice are always
pure." In another place: "there is nothing purer than the light of the
sun, the shadow cast by a cow, air, water, fire and the breath of a
maiden." Finally, in still another place--perhaps this is also a holy
lie--: "all the orifices of the body above the navel are pure, and all
below are impure. Only in the maiden is the whole body pure."

[29] 1 Corinthians vii, 2, 9.


One catches the _unholiness_ of Christian means _in flagranti_ by the
simple process of putting the ends sought by Christianity beside the
ends sought by the Code of Manu--by putting these enormously
antithetical ends under a strong light. The critic of Christianity
cannot evade the necessity of making Christianity _contemptible_.--A
book of laws such as the Code of Manu has the same origin as every other
good law-book: it epitomizes the experience, the sagacity and the
ethical experimentation of long centuries; it brings things to a
conclusion; it no longer creates. The prerequisite to a codification of
this sort is recognition of the fact that the means which establish the
authority of a slowly and painfully attained _truth_ are fundamentally
different from those which one would make use of to prove it. A law-book
never recites the utility, the grounds, the casuistical antecedents of a
law: for if it did so it would lose the imperative tone, the "thou
shall," on which obedience is based. The problem lies exactly here.--At
a certain point in the evolution of a people, the class within it of the
greatest insight, which is to say, the greatest hindsight and foresight,
declares that the series of experiences determining how all shall
live--or _can_ live--has come to an end. The object now is to reap as
rich and as complete a harvest as possible from the days of experiment
and _hard_ experience. In consequence, the thing that is to be avoided
above everything is further experimentation--the continuation of the
state in which values are fluent, and are tested, chosen and criticized
_ad infinitum_. Against this a double wall is set up: on the one hand,
_revelation_, which is the assumption that the reasons lying behind the
laws are _not_ of human origin, that they were _not_ sought out and
found by a slow process and after many errors, but that they are of
divine ancestry, and came into being complete, perfect, without a
history, as a free gift, a miracle...; and on the other hand,
_tradition_, which is the assumption that the law has stood unchanged
from time immemorial, and that it is impious and a crime against one's
forefathers to bring it into question. The authority of the law is thus
grounded on the thesis: God gave it, and the fathers _lived_ it.--The
higher motive of such procedure lies in the design to distract
consciousness, step by step, from its concern with notions of right
living (that is to say, those that have been _proved_ to be right by
wide and carefully considered experience), so that instinct attains to a
perfect automatism--a primary necessity to every sort of mastery, to
every sort of perfection in the art of life. To draw up such a law-book
as Manu's means to lay before a people the possibility of future
mastery, of attainable perfection--it permits them to aspire to the
highest reaches of the art of life. _To that end the thing must be made
unconscious_: that is the aim of every holy lie.--The _order of castes_,
the highest, the dominating law, is merely the ratification of an _order
of nature_, of a natural law of the first rank, over which no arbitrary
fiat, no "modern idea," can exert any influence. In every healthy
society there are three physiological types, gravitating toward
differentiation but mutually conditioning one another, and each of these
has its own hygiene, its own sphere of work, its own special mastery and
feeling of perfection. It is _not_ Manu but nature that sets off in one
class those who are chiefly intellectual, in another those who are
marked by muscular strength and temperament, and in a third those who
are distinguished in neither one way or the other, but show only
mediocrity--the last-named represents the great majority, and the first
two the select. The superior caste--I call it the _fewest_--has, as the
most perfect, the privileges of the few: it stands for happiness, for
beauty, for everything good upon earth. Only the most intellectual of
men have any right to beauty, to the beautiful; only in them can
goodness escape being weakness. _Pulchrum est paucorum hominum_:[30]
goodness is a privilege. Nothing could be more unbecoming to them than
uncouth manners or a pessimistic look, or an eye that sees
_ugliness_--or indignation against the general aspect of things.
Indignation is the privilege of the Chandala; so is pessimism. "_The
world is perfect_"--so prompts the instinct of the intellectual, the
instinct of the man who says yes to life. "Imperfection, whatever is
_inferior_ to us, distance, the pathos of distance, even the Chandala
themselves are parts of this perfection." The most intelligent men, like
the _strongest_, find their happiness where others would find only
disaster: in the labyrinth, in being hard with themselves and with
others, in effort; their delight is in self-mastery; in them asceticism
becomes second nature, a necessity, an instinct. They regard a difficult
task as a privilege; it is to them a _recreation_ to play with burdens
that would crush all others.... Knowledge--a form of asceticism.--They
are the most honourable kind of men: but that does not prevent them
being the most cheerful and most amiable. They rule, not because they
want to, but because they _are_; they are not at liberty to play
second.--The _second caste_: to this belong the guardians of the law,
the keepers of order and security, the more noble warriors, above all,
the king as the highest form of warrior, judge and preserver of the law.
The second in rank constitute the executive arm of the intellectuals,
the next to them in rank, taking from them all that is _rough_ in the
business of ruling--their followers, their right hand, their most apt
disciples.--In all this, I repeat, there is nothing arbitrary, nothing
"made up"; whatever is to the _contrary_ is made up--by it nature is
brought to shame.... The order of castes, the _order of rank_, simply
formulates the supreme law of life itself; the separation of the three
types is necessary to the maintenance of society, and to the evolution
of higher types, and the highest types--the _inequality_ of rights is
essential to the existence of any rights at all.--A right is a
privilege. Every one enjoys the privileges that accord with his state of
existence. Let us not underestimate the privileges of the _mediocre_.
Life is always harder as one mounts the _heights_--the cold increases,
responsibility increases. A high civilization is a pyramid: it can stand
only on a broad base; its primary prerequisite is a strong and soundly
consolidated mediocrity. The handicrafts, commerce, agriculture,
_science_, the greater part of art, in brief, the whole range of
_occupational_ activities, are compatible only with mediocre ability and
aspiration; such callings would be out of place for exceptional men; the
instincts which belong to them stand as much opposed to aristocracy as
to anarchism. The fact that a man is publicly useful, that he is a
wheel, a function, is evidence of a natural predisposition; it is not
_society_, but the only sort of happiness that the majority are capable
of, that makes them intelligent machines. To the mediocre mediocrity is
a form of happiness; they have a natural instinct for mastering one
thing, for specialization. It would be altogether unworthy of a profound
intellect to see anything objectionable in mediocrity in itself. It is,
in fact, the _first_ prerequisite to the appearance of the exceptional:
it is a necessary condition to a high degree of civilization. When the
exceptional man handles the mediocre man with more delicate fingers than
he applies to himself or to his equals, this is not merely kindness of
heart--it is simply his _duty_.... Whom do I hate most heartily among
the rabbles of today? The rabble of Socialists, the apostles to the
Chandala, who undermine the workingman's instincts, his pleasure, his
feeling of contentment with his petty existence--who make him envious
and teach him revenge.... Wrong never lies in unequal rights; it lies in
the assertion of "equal" rights.... What is _bad_? But I have already
answered: all that proceeds from weakness, from envy, from
_revenge_.--The anarchist and the Christian have the same ancestry....

[30] Few men are noble.


In point of fact, the end for which one lies makes a great difference:
whether one preserves thereby or destroys. There is a perfect likeness
between Christian and anarchist: their object, their instinct, points
only toward destruction. One need only turn to history for a proof of
this: there it appears with appalling distinctness. We have just studied
a code of religious legislation whose object it was to convert the
conditions which cause life to _flourish_ into an "eternal" social
organization,--Christianity found its mission in putting an end to such
an organization, _because life flourished under it_. There the benefits
that reason had produced during long ages of experiment and insecurity
were applied to the most remote uses, and an effort was made to bring in
a harvest that should be as large, as rich and as complete as possible;
here, on the contrary, the harvest is _blighted_ overnight.... That
which stood there _aere perennis_, the _imperium Romanum_, the most
magnificent form of organization under difficult conditions that has
ever been achieved, and compared to which everything before it and after
it appears as patchwork, bungling, _dilletantism_--those holy anarchists
made it a matter of "piety" to destroy "the world," _which is to say_,
the _imperium Romanum_, so that in the end not a stone stood upon
another--and even Germans and other such louts were able to become its
masters.... The Christian and the anarchist: both are _decadents_; both
are incapable of any act that is not disintegrating, poisonous,
degenerating, _blood-sucking_; both have an instinct of _mortal hatred_
of everything that stands up, and is great, and has durability, and
promises life a future.... Christianity was the vampire of the _imperium
Romanum_,--overnight it destroyed the vast achievement of the Romans:
the conquest of the soil for a great culture _that could await its
time_. Can it be that this fact is not yet understood? The _imperium
Romanum_ that we know, and that the history of the Roman provinces
teaches us to know better and better,--this most admirable of all works
of art in the grand manner was merely the beginning, and the structure
to follow was not to _prove_ its worth for thousands of years. To this
day, nothing on a like scale _sub specie aeterni_ has been brought into
being, or even dreamed of!--This organization was strong enough to
withstand bad emperors: the accident of personality has nothing to do
with such things--the _first_ principle of all genuinely great
architecture. But it was not strong enough to stand up against the
_corruptest_ of all forms of corruption--against Christians.... These
stealthy worms, which under the cover of night, mist and duplicity,
crept upon every individual, sucking him dry of all earnest interest in
_real_ things, of all instinct for _reality_--this cowardly, effeminate
and sugar-coated gang gradually alienated all "souls," step by step,
from that colossal edifice, turning against it all the meritorious,
manly and noble natures that had found in the cause of Rome their own
cause, their own serious purpose, their own _pride_. The sneakishness of
hypocrisy, the secrecy of the conventicle, concepts as black as hell,
such as the sacrifice of the innocent, the _unio mystica_ in the
drinking of blood, above all, the slowly rekindled fire of revenge, of
Chandala revenge--all _that_ sort of thing became master of Rome: the
same kind of religion which, in a pre-existent form, Epicurus had
combatted. One has but to read Lucretius to know _what_ Epicurus made
war upon--_not_ paganism, but "Christianity," which is to say, the
corruption of souls by means of the concepts of guilt, punishment and
immortality.--He combatted the _subterranean_ cults, the whole of latent
Christianity--to deny immortality was already a form of genuine
_salvation_.--Epicurus had triumphed, and every respectable intellect in
Rome was Epicurean--_when Paul appeared_ ... Paul, the Chandala hatred
of Rome, of "the world," in the flesh and inspired by genius--the Jew,
the _eternal_ Jew _par excellence_.... What he saw was how, with the aid
of the small sectarian Christian movement that stood apart from Judaism,
a "world conflagration" might be kindled; how, with the symbol of "God
on the cross," all secret seditions, all the fruits of anarchistic
intrigues in the empire, might be amalgamated into one immense power.
"Salvation is of the Jews."--Christianity is the formula for exceeding
_and_ summing up the subterranean cults of all varieties, that of
Osiris, that of the Great Mother, that of Mithras, for instance: in his
discernment of this fact the genius of Paul showed itself. His instinct
was here so sure that, with reckless violence to the truth, he put the
ideas which lent fascination to every sort of Chandala religion into the
mouth of the "Saviour" as his own inventions, and not only into the
mouth--he _made_ out of him something that even a priest of Mithras
could understand.... This was his revelation at Damascus: he grasped the
fact that he _needed_ the belief in immortality in order to rob "the
world" of its value, that the concept of "hell" would master Rome--that
the notion of a "beyond" is the _death of life_.... Nihilist and
Christian: they rhyme in German, and they do more than rhyme....


The whole labour of the ancient world gone for _naught_: I have no word
to describe the feelings that such an enormity arouses in me.--And,
considering the fact that its labour was merely preparatory, that with
adamantine self-consciousness it laid only the foundations for a work to
go on for thousands of years, the whole _meaning_ of antiquity
disappears!... To what end the Greeks? to what end the Romans?--All the
prerequisites to a learned culture, all the _methods_ of science, were
already there; man had already perfected the great and incomparable art
of reading profitably--that first necessity to the tradition of
culture, the unity of the sciences; the natural sciences, in alliance
with mathematics and mechanics, were on the right road,--_the sense of
fact_, the last and more valuable of all the senses, had its schools,
and its traditions were already centuries old! Is all this properly
understood? Every _essential_ to the beginning of the work was
ready:--and the _most_ essential, it cannot be said too often, are
methods, and also the most difficult to develop, and the longest opposed
by habit and laziness. What we have today reconquered, with unspeakable
self-discipline, for ourselves--for certain bad instincts, certain
Christian instincts, still lurk in our bodies--that is to say, the keen
eye for reality, the cautious hand, patience and seriousness in the
smallest things, the whole _integrity_ of knowledge--all these things
were already there, and had been there for two thousand years! _More_,
there was also a refined and excellent tact and taste! _Not_ as mere
brain-drilling! _Not_ as "German" culture, with its loutish manners! But
as body, as bearing, as instinct--in short, as reality.... _All gone for
naught!_ Overnight it became merely a memory!--The Greeks! The Romans!
Instinctive nobility, taste, methodical inquiry, genius for organization
and administration, faith in and the _will_ to secure the future of man,
a great yes to everything entering into the _imperium Romanum_ and
palpable to all the senses, a grand style that was beyond mere art, but
had become reality, truth, _life_....--All overwhelmed in a night, but
not by a convulsion of nature! Not trampled to death by Teutons and
others of heavy hoof! But brought to shame by crafty, sneaking,
invisible, anaemic vampires! Not conquered,--only sucked dry!... Hidden
vengefulness, petty envy, became _master_! Everything wretched,
intrinsically ailing, and invaded by bad feelings, the whole
_ghetto-world_ of the soul, was at once _on top_!--One needs but read
any of the Christian agitators, for example, St. Augustine, in order to
realize, in order to smell, what filthy fellows came to the top. It
would be an error, however, to assume that there was any lack of
understanding in the leaders of the Christian movement:--ah, but they
were clever, clever to the point of holiness, these fathers of the
church! What they lacked was something quite different. Nature
neglected--perhaps forgot--to give them even the most modest endowment
of respectable, of upright, of _cleanly_ instincts.... Between
ourselves, they are not even men.... If Islam despises Christianity, it
has a thousandfold right to do so: Islam at least assumes that it is
dealing with _men_....


Christianity destroyed for us the whole harvest of ancient civilization,
and later it also destroyed for us the whole harvest of _Mohammedan_
civilization. The wonderful culture of the Moors in Spain, which was
fundamentally nearer to _us_ and appealed more to our senses and tastes
than that of Rome and Greece, was _trampled down_ (--I do not say by
what sort of feet--) Why? Because it had to thank noble and manly
instincts for its origin--because it said yes to life, even to the rare
and refined luxuriousness of Moorish life!... The crusaders later made
war on something before which it would have been more fitting for them
to have grovelled in the dust--a civilization beside which even that of
our nineteenth century seems very poor and very "senile."--What they
wanted, of course, was booty: the orient was rich.... Let us put aside
our prejudices! The crusades were a higher form of piracy, nothing more!
The German nobility, which is fundamentally a Viking nobility, was in
its element there: the church knew only too well how the German nobility
was to be _won_.... The German noble, always the "Swiss guard" of the
church, always in the service of every bad instinct of the church--_but
well paid_.... Consider the fact that it is precisely the aid of German
swords and German blood and valour that has enabled the church to carry
through its war to the death upon everything noble on earth! At this
point a host of painful questions suggest themselves. The German
nobility stands _outside_ the history of the higher civilization: the
reason is obvious.... Christianity, alcohol--the two _great_ means of
corruption.... Intrinsically there should be no more choice between
Islam and Christianity than there is between an Arab and a Jew. The
decision is already reached; nobody remains at liberty to choose here.
Either a man is a Chandala or he is not.... "War to the knife with Rome!
Peace and friendship with Islam!": this was the feeling, this was the
_act_, of that great free spirit, that genius among German emperors,
Frederick II. What! must a German first be a genius, a free spirit,
before he can feel _decently_? I can't make out how a German could ever
feel _Christian_....


Here it becomes necessary to call up a memory that must be a hundred
times more painful to Germans. The Germans have destroyed for Europe the
last great harvest of civilization that Europe was ever to reap--the
_Renaissance_. Is it understood at last, _will_ it ever be understood,
_what_ the Renaissance was? _The transvaluation of Christian
values_,--an attempt with all available means, all instincts and all the
resources of genius to bring about a triumph of the _opposite_ values,
the more _noble_ values.... This has been the one great war of the past;
there has never been a more critical question than that of the
Renaissance--it is _my_ question too--; there has never been a form of
_attack_ more fundamental, more direct, or more violently delivered by a
whole front upon the center of the enemy! To attack at the critical
place, at the very seat of Christianity, and there enthrone the more
noble values--that is to say, to _insinuate_ them into the instincts,
into the most fundamental needs and appetites of those sitting there ...
I see before me the _possibility_ of a perfectly heavenly enchantment
and spectacle:--it seems to me to scintillate with all the vibrations of
a fine and delicate beauty, and within it there is an art so divine, so
infernally divine, that one might search in vain for thousands of years
for another such possibility; I see a spectacle so rich in significance
and at the same time so wonderfully full of paradox that it should
arouse all the gods on Olympus to immortal laughter--_Caesar Borgia as
pope!_... Am I understood?... Well then, _that_ would have been the
sort of triumph that _I_ alone am longing for today--: by it
Christianity would have been _swept away_!--What happened? A German
monk, Luther, came to Rome. This monk, with all the vengeful instincts
of an unsuccessful priest in him, raised a rebellion _against_ the
Renaissance in Rome.... Instead of grasping, with profound thanksgiving,
the miracle that had taken place: the conquest of Christianity at its
_capital_--instead of this, his hatred was stimulated by the spectacle.
A religious man thinks only of himself.--Luther saw only the _depravity_
of the papacy at the very moment when the opposite was becoming
apparent: the old corruption, the _peccatum originale_, Christianity
itself, no longer occupied the papal chair! Instead there was life!
Instead there was the triumph of life! Instead there was a great yea to
all lofty, beautiful and daring things!... And Luther _restored the
church_: he attacked it.... The Renaissance--an event without meaning, a
great futility!--Ah, these Germans, what they have not cost us!
_Futility_--that has always been the work of the Germans.--The
Reformation; Leibnitz; Kant and so-called German philosophy; the war
of "liberation"; the empire--every time a futile substitute for
something that once existed, for something _irrecoverable_.... These
Germans, I confess, are my enemies: I despise all their uncleanliness
in concept and valuation, their cowardice before every honest yea
and nay. For nearly a thousand years they have tangled and confused
everything their fingers have touched; they have on their conscience
all the half-way measures, all the three-eighths-way measures, that
Europe is sick of,--they also have on their conscience the uncleanest
variety of Christianity that exists, and the most incurable and
indestructible--Protestantism.... If mankind never manages to get rid
of Christianity the _Germans_ will be to blame....


--With this I come to a conclusion and pronounce my judgment. I
_condemn_ Christianity; I bring against the Christian church the most
terrible of all the accusations that an accuser has ever had in his
mouth. It is, to me, the greatest of all imaginable corruptions; it
seeks to work the ultimate corruption, the worst possible corruption.
The Christian church has left nothing untouched by its depravity; it has
turned every value into worthlessness, and every truth into a lie, and
every integrity into baseness of soul. Let any one dare to speak to me
of its "humanitarian" blessings! Its deepest necessities range it
against any effort to abolish distress; it lives by distress; it
_creates_ distress to make _itself_ immortal.... For example, the worm
of sin: it was the church that first enriched mankind with this
misery!--The "equality of souls before God"--this fraud, this _pretext_
for the _rancunes_ of all the base-minded--this explosive concept,
ending in revolution, the modern idea, and the notion of overthrowing
the whole social order--this is _Christian_ dynamite.... The
"humanitarian" blessings of Christianity forsooth! To breed out of
_humanitas_ a self-contradiction, an art of self-pollution, a will to
lie at any price, an aversion and contempt for all good and honest
instincts! All this, to me, is the "humanitarianism" of
Christianity!--Parasitism as the _only_ practice of the church; with its
anaemic and "holy" ideals, sucking all the blood, all the love, all the
hope out of life; the beyond as the will to deny all reality; the cross
as the distinguishing mark of the most subterranean conspiracy ever
heard of,--against health, beauty, well-being, intellect, _kindness_ of
soul--_against life itself_....

This eternal accusation against Christianity I shall write upon all
walls, wherever walls are to be found--I have letters that even the
blind will be able to see.... I call Christianity the one great curse,
the one great intrinsic depravity, the one great instinct of revenge,
for which no means are venomous enough, or secret, subterranean and
_small_ enough,--I call it the one immortal blemish upon the human

And mankind reckons _time_ from the _dies nefastus_ when this fatality
befell--from the _first_ day of Christianity!--_Why not rather from its
last?_--_From today?_--The transvaluation of all values!...


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